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Movie ‘915’ answers El Paso mass-shooting questions

Documentary director Charlie Minn discusses his new movie about the El Paso Walmart shooting.

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Documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn has taken the story of the El Paso mass shooting at Walmart from Aug. 3, 2019.

Minn, who spends his time in between Las Cruces and New York, said he will always give Las Cruces credit for starting everything for him. It was in 2011 that his film "A Nightmare in Las Cruces," about the bowling alley shooting of 1990, was made. He has made 23 documentaries since then and now has tackled one of the top 10 mass shootings in U.S. history.

“Documentaries are meant to inform, educate and raise awareness for change,” Minn said. “That’s why I do what I do. This story, I thought, was so non-transparent for people in the borderland. Everyone knows that something horrible happened at Walmart. We had a mass shooting, but I would say at least 95 percent of people can’t get more specific than that.”

He said part of the problem is the police chief in El Paso is, “very uncomfortable around the media.”

“915” provides a comprehensive look at all aspects of the shooting and includes interviews with direct witnesses, survivors and family members. It takes the viewer into the event with phone camera footage and description.

“This film will answer every possible question that’s on your mind about what happened that day,” Minn said. “There are a lot of angles in this film. People who go see this movie will say, ‘Oh, I never heard about that.’”

The film will be shown for a week beginning Thursday, Oct. 8, at all Cinemark locations in El Paso, as well as Bassett Place, including a theater that is close to the shooting site.

For Minn, the most emotional line in the movie came from El Paso resident Cynthia Loya, who said, “You are attacking my city, you are attacking my people, you are attacking my ethnicity.”

“Every Hispanic should take this personally,” Minn said. “Every Hispanic should be angry. This was a racist outsider who came into El Paso and created evil. How much more personal can you get than that?”

 “Hispanics have been targeted 30 percent of the time,” he said. “There has to be activism channeled in the right way from this.”

The killer drove 10 hours from Dallas to target Hispanics in El Paso, more specifically people from Mexico coming to the U.S. to shop. His name is never mentioned in the film. Minn didn’t want to give him any glory.

“This is to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice,” he said.

Putting the film out in a little over a year from the event required intense investigation. Minn said he thought he would never exceed the bowling alley film in terms of investigation, but here, he had to, he said. There were 46 people shot at the El Paso Walmart, and seven at the bowling alley.

The name of the movie, “915,” comes from the El Paso area code. Minn said there is only one 915 area code and that is El Paso.

“People are going to walk out feeling a lot different than when they walk in,” he said.