Thursday, September 26, 2002 :::
Filmmakers charged with staging, selling 'Bumfights' videos on Internet
Published Sep 26, 2002
SAN DIEGO -- In one videotape, a homeless man is seen ripping out his front tooth with pliers. Another rams his head into a steel door, and others stomp and pummel each other until they are bloody.
Authorities say the makers of the tapes offered homeless men food, shelter, liquor and money to hurt each other, then sold thousands of the videos, titled ``Bumfights,'' over the Internet. Four men accused of making or selling the tapes have been charged, prosecutors said Wednesday.
One of the men broke his ankle during the fight and paramedics were called.
Hannah, dubbed ``Rufus the Stuntbum,'' said the filmmakers gave him $5 and $10 bills to perform. He and his friends still bear tattoos bought by the filmmakers that read ``Bum Life'' and ``Bumfights'' on their hands, bellies and foreheads.
``We never were forced into doing anything,'' Hannah told KFMB-TV in San Diego. ``We were enticed.'' [apparently with tattoos - dan]
``Bumfights'' has been denounced by homeless advocates, who organized a petition calling for an investigation into the filmmakers. On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this summer, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said the film ``sets a new standard for the cruel exploitation of damaged human beings.''
At least 300,000 copies of the videotapes were sold at $20 each, said Lt. Raul Garcia of the La Mesa Police Department.
Asked how he replied to homeless advocates who said the tape exploited the weakest and most vulnerable members of society, Ronis replied, ``I'm not a film critic. I'm just a criminal defense attorney.'' [that was my favorite part - dan]
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