Also screening as part of the Scotiabank Big Ideas Series.
In the 1980s and 1990s, allegations that satanic cults were carrying out ritual abuse and killings erupted throughout the American legal system. "Satanic panic" led to scores of false charges, bizarre assertions and baseless convictions—disproportionately targeting LGBT people. Four young Latina lesbians from San Antonio, Texas, became entangled in a modern-day witch hunt, alleged to have gang raped two children and tried in a case bolstered by homophobia, mythology and possibly the schemes of a vindictive family member. Fifteen years after the women were convicted, director Deborah S. Esquenazi unexpectedly captures a young woman recanting her testimony and coming to terms with being manipulated into making a false accusation. Her confession sets off a chain of events that ultimately could lead to the exoneration of all four women. Detailing a saga of injustice inflicted upon friends and lovers, Southwest of Salem exposes the lies in a society plagued by ignorance. Eli Horwatt