Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nothing to See Here, Folks. Literally.

Someone mentioned in comments a few days ago that pirated DVDs of Presumed Guilty were doing a roaring trade in Mexico City. We were going to write up a post after our Sunday visit to the mercado confirming that the same is true here, but we got distracted by beer and, well, you know... But just about all the pirate DVD stalls have made up signs announcing that they've got the film, most of them are playing it in a continuous loop on their TVs, and one guy even made an entire wall display of Presumed Guilty box covers, like he'd studied showroom design at RISD or something. We're not oblivious to the irony of an illegal black market trade in a crusading-for-justice movie, but with the film's legal status uncertain, it strikes us as a positive thing that hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are getting to see it by any means necessary.

So, not surprisingly, the mercado here was struck by a bold pre-dawn raid (well, the Querétaro equivalent of pre-dawn, anyway - like, 10:30am) by a couple-dozen heavily-armed officers from the AFI (Mexico's FBI) who swooped in and, having solved all other crimes in the city, confiscated 10,000 pirated DVDs - several thousand of which were surely copies of Presumed Guilty.

The raid was lighting-quick - the agents were gone in less than 20 minutes, which is pretty fast for boxing up 10,000 pieces of evidence - and unimpeded by any contact with the DVD sellers, all of whom fled the minute the agents pulled up. Perhaps that's an admission of guilt (we're not totally naive, you know), but perhaps they were also aware of the case of Jacinta Francisco, an indigenous queretana grandmother who, during a similar pirate-DVD raid a few years ago, was accused of kidnapping a half dozen AFI agents and spent three years in jail after a trial so farcical that the sentence got reversed even without having been filmed for a hit movie. That left the agents free to confiscate everything in sight and simply cart it away without documentation (again, we're not complete rubes, but maybe some of the materials were not copyrighted?), and without actually arresting or fining anyone.

So, to review: Movie about Mexican judicial corruption is hottest-selling bootleg DVD in the country. Mexican Justice Department develops sudden interest in cracking down on bootleg DVDs. DVD sellers, aware of previous gross miscarriage of justice by AFI during pirate-DVD raid, offer no resistance. Agents cart away bootleg DVDs, with no pretense of arresting or prosecuting any criminals. Thousands of copies of movie about Mexican judicial corruption now scheduled to be destroyed by Mexican Justice Department, all in the name of justice.

Nothing to see here. Move along, everybody.


Art said...

this happens everywhere in mexico. rumor has it that sellers are told in advance about these raids (at least the ones carried out by local police) so they don't bring as much merchandise just enough that police can boast about the confiscation and the next day it's back to business as usual

Jeff Shear said...

You're sure these guys weren't just shopping? You offer no proof to the contrary. As well, you failed to note that AFI happens to stand for the American Film Institute, of Silver Spring, MD, which explains a lot more than Burro Hall's leap-to-conclusions journalism. Please cancel my subscription.

Burro Hall said...

We're sorry to lose you. Refunds may be picked up in person at our Guadalajara office every Wednesday between noon and 2pm. (Jalisco drivers license + one other photo ID req.)