Actress-producer Jennifer Lopez was awarded Amnesty International's "Artists for Amnesty" Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for this film for "examining the ongoing murders of hundreds of women in a Mexican border town".
Loosely based on a series of unsolved murders in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, an industrial border town near El Paso, Texas. Although estimates conflict, innumerable young women have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered since 1993.
A "maquiladora" or "maquila" is a Mexican term for a factory operating in a free trade zone which import raw materials and equipment under tariff-free and duty-free conditions then export back to the country which they imported from. The factories are involved in a number of commercial activities including assembly, processing and manufacturing.
Writer-producer-director Gregory Nava fashioned the screenplay from the many interviews with people he interviewed regarding the film's subject matter as he had done with his earlier film El Norte (1983).
The name of the newspaper that Jennifer Lopez's character worked for was the "Chicago Sentinel" whilst the name of the local paper that Antonio Banderas's character was editor of was "El Sol de Juárez".