See this fence. This is the dividing wall of two nations. Yet, that wall acts more as a symbol of defeat than of promise.
See this film to see why.
There- that is my recommendation. If you know anything about what makes a great film for me, one of the requirements is subject matter of Latin America. Another is the true, classic ‘hero’ -one that rises and falls in their tale of greatness to being more than what their public persona entails.
‘Cartel Land’ is a mulit-faceted, two-faced, tri-perspectival compilation of the drug wars in Mexico and along the Mexico-U.S. border. (Shew…a lot of big words.)
We jump in with the director as he runs through gun fights, tracks through the dark brush with drug cookers, and observes the birth, anniversary, and perhaps foreshadowing of a movements towards death in the heart of Mexico.
We are invited on the trails through south Arizona scrub with the local militias who seek out the cartel scouts in the mountains crossing into the U.S. We stand in the overwhelming darkness of night as bandanna-wearing men cook drugs over grills and talk about their reasons for their actions. We go with the Autodefensas, a Mexican patriot group, from town to town raiding houses of cartel leaders and arming locals for defense.
‘We’ are there, doing this. We never see the camera operator, but only have first-hand point of views of what, where, and, most importantly, who.
A local hero and doctor, Mireles Valverde, rises from ignominy to infamy in rural Mexico as he begins a local movement to drive away the cartels. He role as doctor and local leader drives him to do what he feels is best- free and empower the local townspeople to stand up to the cartels.
Yet, every hero has his rise and fall…and perhaps will rise again.
Watch this film to get a better understanding of the cartel drug trafficking, as it affects the Mexicans directly, and as the American militia is reviving along our southern border. As well, the issue of government corruption within Mexico is a underscoring provocation for much of what the protagonists do in the film.
Director Matthew Heineman has excellently edited his first foray into this issue. It premiered at Sundance this year and he made it just in time to my Friday 11am screening to answer questions following the film. He says he fears for the Mexican film crew who worked with him- are they safe? Will the Mexican government retaliate?