From director Matthew Hineman and Executive Producer Katherine Bigelow comes Cartel Land, a documentary that gives us an unprecedented insight into the drug wars in Mexico and America currently elapsing.
The film takes for its central focus two vigilantes, one on either side of the border, who have grown dissatisfied with the efforts of authorities to curb the activities of the drug cartels and have taken the law into their own hands to ameliorate the increasingly chaotic situation.
On the Mexican side is Dr Jose Mireles, a small town doctor who leads the Autodefensas, an anti-cartel citizen's group that gained a phenomenal following in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Mireles is a charismatic but flawed individual, and his rise and fall through the film is a telling account of the intractability of the conflict.
On the American side is Tim 'Nailer' Foley, a quite different individual who makes night-time patrols of the Arizona border in order to stem the flow illegal immigrants that the cartels are smuggling into the States. A lonely, psychologically damaged figure – and ex-meth addict – Foley's motivation for his activities are as much about settling private scores as they are about defending the law, and the moral ambiguities of his narrative illuminates the virtues and vices of his co-protagonist, Mireles. In many ways he's also a fantasist, visualising the 'bastards' on the other side of the Arizona borderlands, or what he calls 'the Wild West'.
Heineman's film is a fascinating exposé, which draws together two rather different issues relating to the Mexican border into a coherent and troubling picture and draws out powerful truths very directly from his subjects that show the moral complexities of the struggle.
The cinematography, for which the film also won an award at Sundance, juxtaposes the beauty of the expansive Mexican landscape with the horrific crimes committed at the hands of the cartels. Whilst deeply dramatic, and with great visual texture, Heineman's never lapses into sensationalism. Right and wrong are thrown up constantly, as the film plays, through retained information and its delicate balancing act between these two opposing figures, in a game of misdirection and the grey areas of the war.
Watch Cartel Land, a sophisticated and deep documentary that looks at the troublingly complex conflict in American and Mexico through the lens of the individuals who in their various ways are attempting to fight back.
Cartel Land trailer
Click here to watch the 2015 film trailer for Cartel Land.
|What||Cartel Land 2015 documentary, Sundance Film Festival|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
04 Sep 15 – 04 Oct 15, 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM
|Price||£determined by venue|
|Website||Click here to go to the Cartel Land IMDB page|