Deborah S. Esquenazi Adapts Her ‘Southwest of Salem’ Doc for TV

By Sameer Rao Jun 13, 2018

Filmmaker Deborah S. Esquenazi helped exonerate four wrongfully convicted Latinx lesbian women, incarcerated for nearly 15 years over the alleged gang rape of one of the accused woman’s nieces. She did this by exposing the homophobic anti-Satan panic surrounding their trials in "Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four." The Latinx director and writer announced today (June 13) that her new production company, Myth of Monsters, will focus on fighting oppressive media bias and will launch with a new scripted series about the San Antonio Four. 

According to the Myth of Monsters website, the company seeks "to use storytelling to complicate and upend pernicious myths about women, [people of color] and queer folks." Esquenazi teams up with writer Jason Grote ("Rogue") for the company’s first project, a scripted series adaptation of "Southwest of Salem" that expands on its source material. 

"I’m excited to bring Myth of Monsters to life and explore crime myths, gender violence, monster theory, and identity politics across my work," Esquenazi, who identifies as lesbian, said in a press release. "The adaptation of ‘Southwest of Salem’ will be an incredible undertaking and I am proud to work alongside Jason to take the story deeper into the ’90s, when the ‘Satanic Panic’ wrought havoc on so many innocents. The show will articulate the deep gender and sexual violence that the San Antonio Four endured during their wrongful convictions and decades of imprisonment." The series does not have a title, network or anticipated release date as of press time.

The statement also shared other forthcoming Myth of Monsters projects:"Queen of Wands," Esquenazi’s film about her "own coming-of-age as a young lesbian in a Cuban-Sephardic household"; and an adaptation of Haxan, a fictionalized documentary from 1922 on witchcraft.