With unprecedented access, CARTEL LAND is a harrowing look at the journeys of two modern-day vigilante groups and their shared enemy – the murderous Mexican drug cartels.
In the Mexican state of Michoacán, Dr. Jose Mireles, a small-town physician known as “El Doctor,” leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Meanwhile, in Arizona’s Altar Valley – a narrow, 52-mile-long desert corridor known as Cocaine Alley – Tim “Nailer” Foley, an American veteran, heads a small paramilitary group called Arizona Border Recon, whose goal is to stop Mexico’s drug wars from seeping across our border.
Filmmaker Matthew Heineman embeds himself in the heart of darkness as Nailer, El Doctor, and the cartel each vie to bring their own brand of justice to a society where institutions have failed. CARTEL LAND is a chilling meditation on the breakdown of order and the blurry line between good and evil.
CARTEL LAND Review Sundance 2015, Collider.com
“Cartel Land is a dire meditation on the relationship between idealism and violence, and what combining the two does to the individuals fighting for good. Heineman crafts the film with a confidence and intense focus that results in a tight, dark, and powerful narrative that’s almost too dramatic to be true.”
CARTEL LAND Documents a Moral Quagmire, Twitch Film
“This is a film that’s both timely and timeless, an examination of what appears to be an unassailable cycle of awfulness…”
Vibrant, Electrifying Narco Wars Documentary ‘Cartel Land,’ Indiewire
“Heineman, in placing himself in such danger, has managed to create a remarkable and distinctive film that takes on a difficult issue that cannot be so conveniently remedied or ignored.”
Academy Award DOCUMENTARY (Feature) Nominee – Matthew Heineman + Tom Yellin
Sundance Feature Film DIRECTING Award (U.S. Documentary) – Matthew Heineman
Sundance Feature Film Special Jury CINEMATOGRAPHY Award (U.S. Documentary) – Matthew Heineman + Matt Porwoll