Deborah S. Esquenazi is a film director, writer, and investigative journalist. She is the director of the critically acclaimed documentary Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, which won the Critic’s Choice Award for "Best First Feature," garnered an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Social Issues Documentary," a Peabody Award, and won a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Documentary," among other distinctions.
The film helped exonerate the "San Antonio Four" and is mentioned in the opening passages of the Writs of Habeas Corpus in Ex Parte Anna Vasquez, Cassandra Rivera, Elizabeth Ramirez, and Kristie Mayhugh. The film has been written about in Forbes Magazine, The New York Times, The Texas Observer, The Marshall Project, and many other publications.
Esquenazi is a Rockwood JustFilms Ford Fellow, Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, and a Firelight Film Fellow. Her work, including essays and half-dozen short films (La Loma, Wake Up, Dead Men), tackles the intersections of Mythology & Justice, Identity & Power. Esquenazi is developing a series of essays on these themes.
Southwest of Salem has received international attention for its investigation into this controversial criminal case, and been mentioned in Forbes Magazine, New York Times, Texas Observer, among others. This film was supported by the Sundance Institute for Documentary Film Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Initiative, Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, and Chicken & Egg Pictures.
Esquenazi is also curating a retrospective exhibition on the multi-media of Bruce Jackson, the renowned folklorist, photographer and filmmaker who photographed the bygone era of slave plantation turned prison farm circa 1960’s. She is also collaborating with the renowned Fusebox Festival ThinkEAST project, supported by Artplace America, on an experimental series of teen-led short films that explore issues of Latino identity, criminality, and cultural equity.
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