Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

Deborah S. Esquenazi Productions, LLC

A modern tale of colonial-style persecution follows four Latina lesbians—Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez—wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in the mid-1990s. Fueled by the “Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic” of the day, baffling charges by one of the women’s nieces send them all to prison. Director Deborah S. Esquenazi picks up the story nearly a decade after conviction, and through interviews and home videos we learn about each woman and the struggles of being a homosexual woman of color in their conservative Texas community. One of the accusers, now a young adult, recants her story, mobilizing a movement to vindicate the women, dubbed by the media as “The San Antonio Four.” As part of the Innocence Project, the case leads to landmark legislation and exoneration—a poignant victory for these women who maintain acceptance and compassion and never seem bitter or enraged toward their accusers. For highlighting a story of an overlooked population vulnerable to homophobia and misogyny, and the cost of prejudice, Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four earns a Peabody Award.


Creator: Deborah S. Esquenazi. Executive Producers: Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Daniel Chalfen, Jim Butterworth. Producer: Sam Tabet. Writer: Deborah S. Esquenazi. Featuring: Anna Vasquez, Cassie Rivera, Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Mike Ware, Jeff Blackburn, Debbie Nathan, Keith Hampton, Darrell Otto, Mary Burdette, Stephanie Limon, Javier Limon, Serafina Limon, Nick Vilbas, Gloria Herrera, Michael Rivera, Simon Ramirez, Hector Guereca III, Ashely Chavira, Maria Vasquez, Denise Tristan, Rose Vasquez, Chris Vasquez. Director: Deborah S. Esquenazi. Director of Photography: Deborah S. Esquenazi. Editors: Leah Marino, Liz Perlman. Finishing Editor: Toby Shimin. Consulting Editors: Jean Tsien, Toby Shimin, Victoria Chalk. Music: Sam Lipman, Trio Los Vigilantes. Music Supervisor: Sam Lipman. Cinematography: Deborah S. Esquenazi. Additional Camera: Diana “Dee” Navarro, Elvia Mendoza, Rose Vasquez. Color: Daniel Stuyck. Supervising Sound Editor: Marcelo Tesn. Dialog Editor: David Bondelevitch, MPSE. Re-recording Mixer: David Bondelevitch, CAS. Field Producers: Carrie Kenny, Elvia Mendoza, Karen LaShelle, Liz LaBarge. Motto Pictures: Carolyn Hepburn, Sean Lyness, Marissa Ericson.