Investigation Discovery Earns First Peabody Award With Filmmaker Deborah S. Esquenazi’s Documentary Film, Southwest Of Salem: The Story Of The San Antonio Four

— Film Also Nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary, Winner to Be Announced During Awards Ceremony in NYC on May 6 –


(Silver Spring, MD)—Filmmaker Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary film, SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR, has been named one of 12 winners in the Peabody Awards’ Documentary category for programs released in 2016, earning the first Peabody Award win for America’s leading true crime network, Investigation Discovery (ID). The television home for the film, ID will air an encore presentation of SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR  on Saturday, May 13 from 10a-12p. The documentary is also currently available on Investigation Discovery’s TV Everywhere platform,, the network’s live and on demand streaming service.

“On behalf of my colleagues at Investigation Discovery and all the impassioned supporters of the San Antonio Four along the way, we say congratulations to the SOUTHWEST OF SALEM team for this incredible win of a prestigious Peabody Award!” said Henry Schleiff, Group President, Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “ID is proud to have supported the inspiring work of filmmaker Deborah S. Esquenazi and The Innocence Project of Texas, and we’re most appreciative of not only this honor but, even more, of the attention and recognition this film deserves, let alone its achievement of justice for the San Antonio Four.”

“Our production and distribution team could not be more thankful to ID for being an amazing broadcast partner for our film,” said Esquenazi. “As we reflect back on the journey to get the San Antonio Four fully exonerated, we are humbled by the efforts of the passionate ID audience who activated, and in the end, truly made a difference. The case of the San Antonio Four sits at the precipice of changing attitudes towards gay rights in America, and furthermore, is a glowing example of how the media has a collective ability to shine a light on faults in the American justice system.”

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM chronicles the nightmarish persecution of the San Antonio Four, who were targeted as Latino lesbians in their conservative San Antonio, TX community when they were wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault and indecency against two young girls in 1994. In 2012 and 2013, after one of the accusers recanted and the forensic evidence used in the trial was debunked, Elizabeth Ramirez, Anna Vasquez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera were released from prison – but were still left to battle for their full exoneration. With festival runs, press coverage, and a broadcast partner with ID which first premiered the film on October 15, 2016, impassioned viewers and allies were ignited to act, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals finally granted the innocence and exoneration of the four women on November 23, 2016. SOUTHWEST OF SALEM presents an intense and maddening reinvestigation into the bizarre allegations waged against these women during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980-90s, and examines the disturbing injustices by which they were targeted for their sexual identities.

In addition to the latest Peabody Awards win and the GLAAD Awards nomination, the critically-acclaimed SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR has secured wins at the Critics’ Choice Award for ‘Best First Feature’ (TV/Streaming) as well as Social Media Impact Award for ‘Lens to Action’ Jury Prize. It has also been lauded at film festivals such as Tribeca, HotDocs and AFI Film Festivals, winning awards such as: Documentary Jury Prizes at Frameline, Outfest and Melbourne Queer Film Festival; OUTeast’s Audience Award; DocuWest’s Shoes of Justice Marvin Booker Award; Kaleidoscope’s Social Justice Award; and Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Documentary. ”

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR is now available for university community engagement screenings and events. To book please email

SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR is produced by Motto Pictures and Naked Edge Films with Deborah S. Esquenazi as director and Sam Tabet as producer. For Motto Pictures Julie Goldman and Christopher Clements are executive producers. For Naked Edge Films, Jim Butterworth and Daniel J. Chalfen are executive producers. For Investigation Discovery, Pamela Deutsch is senior executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America.

About Deborah S. Esquenazi

Deborah S. Esquenazi is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer, curator, journalist. Her work explores the intersections of mythology & justice, identity & power. She is a Rockwood JustFilms Ford Foundation Fellow, 2016; Firelight Media Lab Fellow, 2016; Artist-in-Residence at the Mexican-American Cultural Center in Austin, 2016-19; Sundance Creative Producing Fellow, 2015; Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, 2014. Her projects have received support from Humanities Texas, Sundance Institute in association with JustFilms Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, IFP, Arcus Fund, Paul Robeson Fund, and many others. Her debut feature documentary, Southwest of Salem, premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival to critical acclaim, and is a reinvestigation into the bizarre allegations waged against the ‘San Antonio Four’ during the ’Satanic Panic’ of the 1980-90’s.

About Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery (ID) is the leading mystery-and-suspense network on television. From harrowing crimes and salacious scandals to the in-depth investigations and heart-breaking mysteries behind these “real people, real stories”, the “always revealing” network challenges our everyday understanding of culture, society and the human condition. One of our nation’s fastest growing cable networks, ID delivers the highest-quality programming to more than 85 million U.S. households and is available in both high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD). For more information, please visit,, or Investigation Discovery is part of Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world’s #1 pay-TV programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in 220 countries and territories.

About Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards honor the most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media. Each year, Peabody Awards are bestowed upon a curated collection of 30 stories that capture society’s most important issues—known as the Peabody 30. Honorees must be unanimously chosen by the Peabody Board of Jurors, a diverse assembly of industry professionals, media scholars, critics, and journalists who each bring a unique perspective of what constitutes a story that matters. From major Hollywood productions to local journalism, the network of Peabody Awards winners is a definitive collection of society’s most important stories and storytellers, including winners that have ranged from Edward R. Murrow, Carol Burnett, and David Letterman to “The Sopranos,” “Sesame Street,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Serial.” The Peabody Awards were founded in 1940 at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia and are still based in Athens today. For more information, visit or follow @PeabodyAwards on Twitter.


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