10 December, 2005

Señorita Extraviada

If you haven't heard about the murders of women in N. Mexico, shame on you! These murders have been going on for over a decade now. The victims that are targeted are often maquiladora workers who must travel long distances under dark and through largely deserted areas on their way to and from work at the foreign-owned factories. Because of the extent and duration of these murders, many other women have faced similar fates. From serial killers, to the local police, to the brutal cartels of N. Mexico, many such groups have been inculcated in theories aiming to shed light on the culpable actors that are targeting these women. The stories have largely fallen on the deaf ears of the responsible local and federal government in Mexico, until recently. I hope to write in more detail about these murders at a later date. For now, go here for more on these murders.

The reason for this post, while not a didactic one, is to bring to light the issues media companies face in disseminating the stories of these women without a voice. Following is a copy of recent correspondences Eve and I have had with the distribution company responsible for making the documentary film "Señorita Extraviada" available. The documentary aims at giving a background to and coverage of the potential explanations for these tragic murders. It is quite successful in that mission and we recommend any of you interested in these issues to get a copy of the film here. Our correspondences follow:

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Señorita Extraviada
3 messages
Fri, Dec 9, 2005 at 12:24 AM
To: orders@wmm.com

We saw this film at a showing on campus at the University of Chicago last year. The film generated some energetic discussion amongst the small group that attended. It made a big impact on us and we were recently reminded of the film while reading some news about cartels from the US-Mexico border area.

Anyway, we just wanted to write a short email and ask, why isn't the video available on DVD? Not only would the media be less costly to reproduce, you could reach a wide audience in your efforts to disseminate news of these tragic murders. We would love to get a copy either way. Just maybe next paycheck :).


orders Fri, Dec 9, 2005 at 5:16 PM
Dear ,

Thank you for your comments.
As a nonprofit distributor of independent media we appreciate your support. Regarding DVD production, unfortunately, the funds are not always available to make the initial transfer from analog to digital, if the master/original format isn't already digital. Furthermore, once that is made, replications or duplications are only cheap if ordered in very high volumes and unfortunately, even with one of our bestselling and most important titles like SENORITA EXTRAVIADA, we don't do enough volume to justify making that many copies. (We are talking the kind of volume to keep up with Hollywood--which is not in our league.) Furthermore, it is expensive to maintain inventory of both formats, and though you may not be aware of it, many institutional libraries (our main market) are still buying on VHS. These are the issues that many distributors of independent media face.

We appreciate your feedback, but these are the many factors of which you are probably unaware. Also, SENORITA EXTRAVIADA has shown across the country at thousands of educational institutions and respected festivals and venues, as well as on the grassroots level in communities and homes. It has also screened internationally. In fact, this film actually contributed to pressure being put on the Mexican Governmenta and the re-opening of these murders cases. It has and continues to reach a wide audience to raise awareness about situation in Juarez.





Women Make Movies is the world's leading distributor of independent films by and about women, with a focus on cutting-edge documentaries that give depth to today's headlines, as well as artistically and intellectually challenging works in all genres. This year, we are proud that Kim Longinotto's latest film SISTERS IN LAW will open IDFA, the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Also, look for THE GRACE LEE PROJECT, opening for a two week run at NY's Film Forum on December 14th. For more information www.wmm.com.

Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 1:25 AM
To: orders
Subject: Señorita Extraviada

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Sat, Dec 10, 2005 at 8:16 PM
To: orders@wmm.com
Dear ,

Thank you for the prompt response! While we are aware of the various issues you raised concerning media formats and production costs, we have to disagree with your assesment of digitization costs and subsequent DVD reproduction costs. In fact, readily available technologies such as PCI video input cards, among others, would easily facilitate the transfer of VHS to digital video at a convenient cost. Such technologies are often accompanied by inexpesinve video editing software that allows for the manipulation of digital video. These technologies are so accesible they can be purchased through popular online stores such as Amazon.com. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/33V7EM4RRV8E3/102-6352037-2026541 - depending on your particular needs, a quick Google search should point you in the direction of alternate forms of these technologies.) Moreover, the documentary-style of "Señorita Extraviada" (SE), as well as the more indendent-nature of distributors such as WMM, lends itself to such inexpensive means of digital conversion.

Of course, it is always important to meet the necessities of customers with legacy media devices who find formats such as VHS more convenient to use. Furthermore, it is equally important to make films such as SE available to a wide audience that may include individual consumers, educational instutions and non-profit groups. These groups are crucial in the process of disseminating the ignored stories of female victims such as the Maquiladora workers of N. mexico. These women find themselves at the whim of an apathetic federal and state government in Chihuaha, and ineffectual --as well as inefficient-- local law-enforcement agencies.

Thank you once again for your thorough reply to our comments. In the end, it is organizations such as WMM that add weight to the voices of the women of Juarez and elsewhere in N. Mexico. That said, we commend you in your efforts and wish you the best in your future endeavors.


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Update: Here's the last piece in this round of correspondences with WMM.

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Again, thank you for your comments. We are aware of how readily available consumer digital technologies are, however, we have a responsibility to our customers to provide the best possible quality available which unfortunately consumer technologies do not always provide. This is especially true when the source material is analog and must be converted to digital, as this requires intelligent conversion and compression to avoid artifacts and other losses. It is a common misconception that digital automatically means good quality--there are variables that effect digital quality just like anything else. Many library's would not purchase our materials if we made them in-house from our office computers, and rightfully so. We have all our DVD's, whether replicated or duplicated, made through a reputable, high-end professional dubbing house.

Thank you for your comments and support of our organization, as well your concern over the issues in SENORITA EXTRAVIADA.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where the world slides?