In the state of Michoacán, in Mexico, drugs cartels seem to operate with absolute impunity. They seize lands, demand money from the residents and whenever they are confronted with a problem or a debt, they don’t hesitate to torture or kill people, whatever the gender or age. Tired of the situation and the lack of action of their governments, citizens from both sides of the border organize themselves to offer the resistance authorities won’t provide. Armed and ready for anything, they try to recruit men to chase the dealers and carry out their personal vengeance. The more they are, the better. However, the army that once turned a blind eye on the cartels is starting to manifest itself when they take over the power. And once we have the state in between, things get even more complicated…
Matthew Heineman, specialized in documentaries, takes a leap in this third feature film. He films the popular struggle and the citizen fights against the drug cartels, shot from the first-person perspective, and risks his life, putting himself amongst the gunfire. He gives a voice to all parties and lifts the veil on the implications of the government in drug dealing. In the end, without being that explicit, this film reminds the viewer of a documentary version of Sicario. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and it has been nominated for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards and the BAFTA, where they acknowledged the personal risks taken by the director to shoot the movie. Cartel Land is a rough experience that brings us closer to a distant reality so frightening that it seems more like a nightmare than reality.
Oscar 2016: Nominated for Best Documentary, Feature
Directing and Cinematography Awards Sundance 2015 (Documentary)
Courage Under Fire Award: International Documentary Association 2015
Best Film of the Documentary Competition: Moscow International Film Festival 2015