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May 4, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

French documentary maker faces a slew of law suits in a bid to censor his film


Reporters Without Borders today urged courts in a Brazilian state not to give way to pressure and endorse an act of censorship against a film by French documentary maker José Huerta. The director is facing a total of eight legal proceedings, including one criminal charge, along with a demand for 60,000 euros in damages over a film he made in 2008 about tourist development and its harmful effects on Parajuru, a small fishing village in north-eastern Brazil. The criminal trial opens tomorrow, relating to alleged defamatory remarks that are not in the documentary. If José Huerta is within his rights on the substance, we urge the justice system in Ceará state hearing the case not to give to way to any pressure, particularly financial, and sanction an act of censorship, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. Trailer: We have seen A Week in Parajuru and we can guarantee the director’s determination to be objective, it said. It gives a hearing both to representatives of the Austrian promoters who are behind the tourist development in Parajuru and to people from there. Huerta does not, through the film, seek to oppose development at any price. He stresses, with good reason, the lack of consultation with the local community on the part of the Austrian group, headed by Gisele Wisniewski. He highlights the demographic and environmental problems with this kind of investment, some of which have been declared illegal by the federal authorities. He also points out, but without making any accusations against the promoters he filmed, the possible ill-effects from mass tourism. See also the website of the campaign in support of the film: http://www.vagalume.fr/campagneparajuru/Accueil.html Although she appeared briefly on film, Gisele Wisniewski refused to reply to José Huerta’s questions. Why should she take this attitude? The film-maker did however question close associates. To demonstrate his good faith, Huerta even organised a screening of the film in Parajuru, open to all those involved, in April 2009. It was following this screening that a complaint was laid against him leading to the opening in July 2009, of eight legal proceedings that he was notified of in January this year. Nothing can justify any kind of proceedings against a work of art, and even less its seizure or censorship, the organisation said, asking, ‘Might the stance of the promoters be linked to the fact that someone close to Gisele Wisniewski was accused of a financial scandal in Austria in September 2009 (Buwog Affäre) and that embezzled money could have been reinvested in Parajuru’.