The Orchard has released the first trailer for director Matthew Heineman’s (Our Time) stunning documentary Cartel Land. Executive produced by Kathryn Bigelow, the film chronicles the battle against Mexican drug cartels by two vigilante groups on opposite sides of the border: the Arizona Border Recon in the U.S., and a rebel uprising group in the Mexican state of Michoacán. I caught the film at Sundance and it is a profound, deeply disturbing, and unbelievably intense documentary tackling an issue that’s all too current. Both vigilante groups share idealistic goals for bringing these drug cartels down, but when a power vacuum occurs, does it simply breed more—and potentially worse—violence and corruption? That’s one of the questions at the center of this film, which I’d go so far as to consider essential viewing.
Here’s the official synopsis for Cartel Land:
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.