With unprecedented access, CARTEL LAND is a riveting, on-the-ground 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. From executive producer Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER, ZERO DARK THIRTY), CARTEL LAND is a chilling, visceral meditation on the breakdown of order and the blurry line between good and evil. At the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Heineman received both the Directing Award and Special Jury Award for Cinematography in the U.S. Documentary competition.
Director / Producer / Cinematographer / Editor
Matthew Heineman is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker based in New York. His latest film CARTEL LAND was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Best Cinematography. The film premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where Heineman won the Best Director Award and Special Jury Prize for Cinematography.
The film was released theatrically nationwide by The Orchard in July 2015 and had its broadcast premiere on A&E in January 2016. Heineman won the Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary Award from the Director’s Guild of America for the film, as well as the Courage Under Fire Award from the International Documentary Association “in recognition of conspicuous bravery in the pursuit of truth.” He was also named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015. In addition, Cartel Land was nominated for a Gotham Award, Critics’ Choice Award, and BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, and was recently presented with the 2015 Documentary Award by the prestigious George Polk Awards in Investigative Journalism.
Previously, he directed and produced a feature-length documentary ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. It premiered at Sundance 2012, won numerous awards at festivals across the country, and was released by Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate to critical praise in October 2012. The film premiered on CNN in March 2013, and was subsequently nominated for an Emmy.
Heineman collaborated for two years with a team at HBO on the groundbreaking, Emmy-nominated HBO series, The Alzheimer's Project, which aired in May 2009. He also directed and produced OUR TIME – a feature length documentary about what it's like to be young in today's America. Heineman has directed several short films and commercials and is in development on a few different projects.
Kathryn Bigelow is an artist of singular talent. As a film director/producer, she has crafted a singular body of work that challenges genre norms and offers viscerally stunning portraits of characters and conflicts resonant to contemporary culture.
Two time Oscar winner Bigelow most recently directed and produced the critically acclaimed, multi-Oscar-nominated “Zero Dark Thirty.” In 2009, her direction and producing of “The Hurt Locker” earned her two Oscars, for Best Picture and Director. Chronicling an unseen side of the Iraq war while revealing the soul-numbing rigors of the modern battlefield, the film was hailed by Time’s Richard Corliss as “a near perfect movie,” and deemed “a classic of fear, tension and bravery which will still be studied twenty years from now,” by the New Yorker’s David Denby.
Originally trained as a painter, Bigelow graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute and was invited to study at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She then entered the graduate film program at Columbia University, where she earned her master’s degree. In 2011, MoMA honored Bigelow’s work in both film and the visual arts with a showcase and exhibition entitled "Crafting Genre: Kathryn Bigelow."
Bigelow supports many environmental and animal welfare charities, in addition to the EOD Memorial Foundation, Wounded Warrior Foundation & Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation. Bigelow also recently created the Public Service Announcement Last Days, and was awarded The Humane Society of the United States Genesis Award in 2014 for Outstanding Short Film. The award cited the "impactful story-telling to call critical attention to the link between terrorism and the ivory trade and its dire consequences for elephants.
Tom Yellin is Co-Founder and President of The Documentary Group, an independent production company. The DocGroup’s projects include the ground-breaking GIRL RISING, a feature film and a global campaign to support girls’education in developing countries. Other recent projects include AMERICA IN PRIMETIME, a four part PBS series showcasing the creative minds behind the new golden age of television; the Peabody award-winning ABC News Special, TO IRAQ AND BACK; and the Academy Award nominated documentary OPERATION HOMECOMING.
Molly Thompson launched and runs A&E IndieFilms, the network’s feature documentary division. A&E IndieFilms’ productions include the Oscar-nominated, Sundance Award-winner MURDERBALL, the Oscar-nominated JESUS CAMP and the Emmy Award-winners THE TILLMA STORY and UNDER AFRICAN SKIES. Thompson executive produces the division’s original productions including: AMERICAN TEEN, THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE and THE IMPOSTER. A&E IndieFilms’ most recent productions include SUPERMENSCH THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON directed by Mike Myers, and HAPPY VALLEY directed by Amir Bar-Lev. Thompson also EP'd two scripted Lifetime Films' features: LAST OF ROBIN HOOD, which premiered at TIFF in 2013 and released by Goldwyn, and the forthcoming LILA AND EVE, starring Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez.
Matthew Hamachek began his career working on the Oscar-nominated documentary STREET FIGHT with Marshall Curry and went on to collaborate with Curry again on RACING DREAMS (Best Documentary, Tribeca Film Festival) and IF A TREE FALLS, which won the Documentary Editing award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Hamachek went on to win the editing award at the 2013 Sundance film festival for GIDEON’S ARMY. Since then he has edited MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS about the band The National and CONSOLE WARS (executive producers Scott Rudin and Seth Rogen) about the battle between Sega and Nintendo in 90s.
BRADLEY J. ROSS
Bradley is an Emmy nominated producer and award winning editor residing in New York City. Over the last decade, he has edited and produced a variety of content for Showtime Networks, Ogilvy & Mather, MTV and Amazon Studios. Recently, Bradley co-founded Manhattan Productions, a full service production / post-production company which creates commercials, trailers, network promos, television series and feature films. In 2012, he co-produced and edited ESCAPE FIRE: THE FIGHT TO RESCUE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE, which was a Sundance Official Selection, won numerous awards across the country, and was nominated for a 2013 Emmy Award.
Pax Wassermann is a film editor and producer with twenty years in features, television and documentaries. In addition to CARTEL LAND, his documentary work includes DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, the Sally Mann documentary WHAT REMAINS, the recent films ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME and THE NOTORIOUS MR. BOUT, and WHICH WAY HOME, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009. His fiction work includes Peter Bogdanovich’s upcoming comedy SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, and Noah Buschel’s directorial debut BRINGING RAIN.
Myles Estey is a journalist, producer and editor based in Mexico City since 2010, covering the drug war, politics and underground economies across Mexico and Central America.
He has produced radio and video documentaries that have aired on Discovery, BBC, CBC, CNN and others. His writing has appeared in publications such as the Times of London, Toronto Star, Global Post, Monocle and the Guardian. And he has produced video and radio news features for CBC, BBC, PRI’s The World and Univision, and spot news and commentary for CBS, NPR and France 24.
The co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the New York-based, award-winning Makeshift Magazine, Myles leads an international, multimedia team covering creativity and ingenuity across the world’s informal economies and black markets. Prior to Mexico, Myles lived in Liberia from 2008 - 2010.
Matt Porwoll is a documentary cinematographer based in New York. CARTEL LAND is Porwoll's second collaboration with director Matthew Heineman: Emmy-nominated ESCAPE FIRE: THE FIGHT TO RESCUE AMERICAN HEALTHCARE, shot by Wolfgang Held, made its premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Matt has also served as additional cinematographer on BE HERE NOW: THE ANDY WHITFIELD STORY with Academy Award-nominated director Lilibet Foster, HBO’s Emmy-nominated BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA, directed by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams, and GUNNIN’ FOR THAT #1 SPOT directed by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. Recently Matt worked with cinematographer Tony Hardmon and director Ellen Goosenberg on HBO’s CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1, which was nominated for an Emmy and short listed for the 2015 Academy Awards Documentary Short Subject Category.
H. SCOTT SALINAS
Scott began his music career at the age of twelve playing guitar with reggae and blues bands on the small island of St. Croix in the Unites States Virgin Islands.
In 1993, he left his island home to major in music at Princeton University where he discovered jazz and classical music turning his whole musical world upside down. After graduating from Princeton University in 1997, he continued his education at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he concentrated in scoring for picture, graduating in 2001.
In 2002, Scott was named Grand Prize Winner in the Turner Classic Movies Young Film Composers Competition and was commissioned to compose several original scores to classic silent films such as LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928) starring Lon Chaney and Loretta Young and the dark Parisian romance THE RED LILY (1924). In 2003, Scott moved his studio to Los Angeles where he has since composed music for dozens of feature films and several high profile TV shows. His most recent film work includes: HBO’s smash hit, The Newsroom, the harrowing documentary, THE SQUARE (winner of Sundance and TIFF audience awards 2013, and Oscar nominated 2014), and NBC’s new spy thriller, Allegiance premiering in 2015.
Jackson Greenberg is a composer, singer, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles, California. Originally from Philadelphia, Greenberg’s collaboration with award winning composer H. Scott Salinas on CARTEL LAND marks his first appearance at The Sundance Film Festival. Since moving to Los Angeles, the 24-year-old Greenberg has worked with legendary artist Randy Newman, written songs for numerous others and can be seen performing his own work at venues around town. He has scored multiple festival award winning short films and composed music for national television commercials. He received his undergraduate degree in music from Princeton University and his graduate degree in composition from The Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
Red Rock Film Festival - Cedar City, UT
IFC Center - New York, NY (Limited Time Return Run)
San Francisco Film Society - San Francisco, CA
Ojai Film Society - Ojai, CA
Bijou Cinema at Film Scene - Iowa City, IA
Jan 23 - Sundance Film Festival
Jan 24 - Sundance Film Festival
Jan 26 - Sundance Film Festival
Jan 28 - Sundance Film Festival
Jan 29 - Sundance Film Festival
Jan 30 - Sundance Film Festival
Mar 6 - True/False Film Festival
Mar 7 - True/False Film Festival
Mar 8 - True/False Film Festival
Mar 21 - Martha's Vineyard Film Festival
Mar 22 - Martha's Vineyard Film Festival
Apr 10 - Ashland Independent Film Festival
Apr 11 - Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Apr 11 - Dallas International Film Festival
Apr 11 - Ashland Independent Film Festival
Apr 12 - Dallas International Film Festival
Apr 12 - Florida Film Festival
Apr 12 - Ashland Independent Film Festival
Apr 16 - Sarasota Film Festival
Apr 16 - Florida Film Festival
Apr 16 - Sarasota Film Festival
Apr 18 - Sarasota Film Festival
Apr 22 - Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 24 - Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 26 - Tribeca Film Festival
Apr 27 - Independent Film Festival Boston
May 2 - Docville, Belgium
May 5 - Documenta Madrid
May 6 - Docville, Belgium
May 7 - Documenta Madrid
May 9 - Louisiana International Film Festival
May 9 - Docville, Belgium
May 16 - Little Rock Film Festival
May 22 - MountainFilm Telluride
May 23 - MountainFilm Telluride
May 29 - Berkshire International Film Festival
May 30 - Berkshire International Film Festival
May 30 - Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
Jun 1 - Seattle International Film Festival
Jun 2 - Seattle International Film Festival
Jun 6 - Sydney Film Festival
Jun 6 - Sheffield International Film Festival
Jun 9 - Sheffield International Film Festival
Jun 10 - Champs Elysee Film Festival
Jun 11 - Human Rights Watch Film Festival
Jun 12 - Champs Elysee Film Festival
Jun 16 - Champs Elysee Film Festival
Jun 18 - AFI Docs
Jun 19 - AFI Docs
Jun 27 - Nantucket Film Festival
Jun 28 - Nantucket Film Festival
Jun 28 - Aspen Ideas Festival
July 3 - Sundance Cinema - Madison, WI
Jul 3 - IFC Center
Jul 3 - Lincoln Plaza Cinemas
Jul 6 - USC Screening
Jul 7 - Mayan Theatre
Jul 10 - Celebration - Woodland 14
Jul 10 - San Rafael Regency 6
Jul 10 - Valley Art
Jul 10 - Landmark Chez Artiste
Jul 10 - Landmark E Street
Jul 10 - Landmark Ken
Jul 10 - Landmark Kendall Square
Jul 10 - Landmark Ritz at the Bourse
Jul 10 - Arclight Hollywood
Jul 10 - Arbor Cinemas at Great Hills
Jul 10 - Regal Fox Tower
Jul 10 - University Town Center 6
Jul 10 - Sundance Cinemas Houston
Jul 10 - Sundance Cinemas Seattle
Jul 10 - Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Jul 10 - Bloor Hot Docs
Jul 10 - Cinemas Palme d'Or
Jul 10 - Music Box
Jul 10 - Sag Harbor Cinemas
Jul 10 - The Loft
Jul 17 - Alamo Drafthouse Marketplace 12
Jul 17 - AMC La Jolla 12
Jul 17 - Grapevine Mills 30 DIT with IMAX
Jul 17 - Studio 30 Houston with IMAX
Jul 17 - Cinemark 16 + XD
Jul 17 - Cinemark Cielo Vista Mall + XD
Jul 17 - Cinemark Harker Heights 16
Jul 17 - Grand Prairie 15
Jul 17 - Hollywood Usa 20
Jul 17 - Movies 16 + XD
Jul 17 - Movies 17
Jul 17 - Odessa 12
Jul 17 - Roseville 14 + XD
Jul 17 - Tinseltown 17
Jul 17 - Yuma Palms 14
Jul 17 - Laemmle Playhouse 7
Jul 17 - Landmark Keystone Art
Jul 17 - Landmark Lagoon
Jul 17 - Landmark Tivoli
Jul 17 - ArcLight Bethesda
Jul 17 - Angelika Film Center Plano
Jul 17 - Devargas Mall Cinema 6
Jul 17 - High Ridge Theatre 8
Jul 17 - Bethel Cinema
Jul 17 - Bijou Metro
Jul 17 - Bryn Mawr Film Institue
Jul 17 - Camera Cinemas
Jul 17 - Cinemart Cinemas
Jul 17 - Frida Cinema
Jul 17 - Globe Twin
Jul 17 - Liberty Theater
Jul 17 - Magic Lantern Carlton Cinema
Jul 17 - Martha's Vineyard Film Center
Jul 17 - Osio Plaza 6
Jul 17 - Plaza De Oro 2
Jul 17 - SIFF Uptown
Jul 21 - SPACE Gallery
Jul 24 - AMC Quail Springs Mall 24
Jul 24 - Sunset Place 24 with IMAX
Jul 24 - Veterans 24 with IMAX
Jul 24 - San Rafael Northgate 15
Jul 24 - Laemmle Noho 7
Jul 24 - Belltower 20
Jul 24 - Downtown West Cinema 8
Jul 24 - Gainesville Cinema Stadium 14
Jul 24 - Park Terrace Stadium 6
Jul 24 - Tara Cinemas 4
Jul 24 - A/Perture
Jul 24 - Bijou at Crossroads
Jul 24 - Bryn Mawr Film Institute
Jul 24 - Cinema Center
Jul 24 - Four Star Twin
Jul 24 - Gateway Film Center 8
Jul 24 - New Parkway
Jul 24 - Real Art Ways
Jul 24 - Regency Rancho Niguel 8
Jul 24 - Regency The Plant 16
Jul 24 - Summerfield Cinemas
Jul 24 - Tower Theater
Jul 24 - Varsity Theatre
Jul 29 - Alamo Drafthouse - Winchester
Jul 29 - Naro Expanded Cinema
Jul 31 - Sundance Sunset 5
Jul 31 - Cinema Le Clap
Jul 31 - Cinetopia Overland Park 18 + GXL (5/23)
Jul 31 - Kingsway
Jul 31 - Kingsway
Jul 31 - SIE Film Center
Aug 4 - Warner Bros Post Production Services - ATTN Danny White
Aug 6 - South Bay Film Society
Aug 7 - Muvico Sundial 19 + IMAX
Aug 7 - Cleveland Cinemas - Cedar Lee
Aug 7 - Dragonfly Cinema
Aug 7 - St. Anthony Main Theater
Aug 8 - Roxie New College Film Theater, The
Aug 11 - City Lights Cinemas
Aug 13 - Garde Arts Center
Aug 14 - Mall de Norte
Aug 14 - Sparks 14 + XD
Aug 14 - Tinseltown USA 15
Aug 14 - Village Square Stadium 18
Aug 14 - Village Square Stadium 18
Aug 14 - Art Theater
Aug 14 - Art Theater Co-op (Champaign, IL)
Aug 14 - Darkside Cinema
Aug 14 - Pickford Film Center
Aug 14 - Tropic Cinema
Aug 21 - Loft, The
Aug 21 - Magic Lantern Theatre
Aug 21 - Tin Pan Theater
Aug 28 - Mayfair Theatre
Aug 28 - Stonzek Theater at Lake Worth Playhouse
Aug 31 - Thalian Hall
Sep 2 - Dairy Center for the Arts
Sep 2 - Revue Cinema
Sep 3 - Mary Fisher Theater - Sedona Film Society
Sep 3 - Megaplex Theatres 13 @ The Junction
Sep 4 - Roxy Theater
Sep 4 - Sun-Ray Cinema
Sep 4 - Times Square Cinema
Sep 4 - Vancity Theatre
Sep 5 - Laemmle Claremont
Sep 5 - Bloor Hot Docs
Sep 8 - New School - Toby Talbot
Sep 9 - Michigan Theater
Sep 11 - Cinematique of Daytona
Sep 11 - Madison Theater
Sep 11 - Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center
Sep 13 - Manship Theater
Sep 15 - Homer Theater
Sep 18 - Art House Cinema and Pub
Sep 18 - Esquire
Sep 18 - Ryder, The
Sep 22 - International Film Series at UC Boulder
Sep 24 - Milwaukee Film Festival
Sep 25 - Red River Theaters
Sep 25 - Salem Cinema
Sep 30 - Investigative Film Festival
Oct 2 - Gene Siskel Film Center
Oct 4 - Ellensburg Film Festival
Oct 5 - Port Jefferson Doc Series
Oct 7 - UCSB Multicultural Center
Oct 11 - Belcourt Theatre, The
Oct 12 - Bear Tooth Theatrepub & Grill
Oct 16 - The Cary Theater
Oct 17 - Art Theater
Oct 17 - New Hampshire Film Festival
Oct 18 - Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College
Oct 19 - DOC NYC c/o IFC Center
Oct 20 - Savannah Film Festival c/o Print Traffic
Oct 21 - Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley ATTN: Mariana Gonzalez Insua
Oct 24 - Little Cinema at Berkshire Museum
Oct 25 - Moxie
Nov 2 - Made in NY Media Center by IFP
Nov 6 - Palo Alto College ATTN: Isidro Medina
Nov 6 - Red Rock Film Festival
Nov 7 - San Francisco Film Society c/o Joseph Flores
Nov 8 - Ojai Film Society c/o Nathan Wickstrum
• Academy Award© (Nominee): Best Documentary Feature
• British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Nominee): Best Documentary
• Cinema Eye Honors (5 Nominations): Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Feature Filmmaking, Direction, Production, Cinematography, and Original Music Score
• Critics Choice Awards (Nominee): Best Documentary
• DGA Award (Winner): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
• George Polk Awards in Investigative Journalism (Winner): Documentary Film Award
• Gotham Independent Film Awards (Nominee): Best Documentary
• International Documentary Association (Winner): Courage Under Fire Award
• Primetime Emmy Awards: Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking (Winner), Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program (Winner), Outstanding Sound Editing For A Nonfiction Program (Winner), Outstanding Directing For A Nonfiction Program (Nominee), Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program (Nominee)
• Sundance Film Festival (Winner): Best Director, Special Grand Jury Prize for Cinematography
CARTEL LAND wins 3 Emmy Awards for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, Outstanding Cinematography in a Nonfiction Program, and Outstanding Sound Editing in a Nonfiction Program!
SUNDANCE INSTITUTE 'CARTEL LAND' and 'WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?' Lead Emmy Nominees
Cartel Land nominated for 5 Emmy Awards, including Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking!
Cartel Land nominated for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards!
Heineman: "There’s no silver bullet in this fight. The elephant in the room in Cartel Land is, obviously, America’s voracious appetite for drugs… it’s basic supply and demand: as long as there is a demand for drugs in the states, there will be a supply of drugs in Mexico and South America, and the violence that comes from that."
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
The Close-Up Podcast Series presents a conversation with filmmaker Matthew Heineman and Kirsten Johnson on the making of Cartel Land.
Watch Matthew Heineman sit down with Business Insider to discuss how "initial assumptions about right and wrong and good and evil prove far too simplistic for this complex war."
The Sundance Institute catches up with Matthew Heineman a year after Cartel Land won the 2015 Sundance Documentary Directing Award and Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography.
Rafael Fernández de Castro and Rafa Fernández de Castro call Heineman "a young gringo who surprisingly grasps Mexico's impunity problem in all its dimensions. More importantly, his camera doesn't judge as much as it shows the complexity of the country's violence."
VICE sits down with Matthew Heineman and legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (SICARIO) to discuss filmmaking and "the overlapping themes of their respective films."
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
The 11th annual Italia Film Festival presents the Documentary of the Year Award to Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land!
In this BYOD highlight hosted by Ondi Timoner, "Matthew Heineman discusses documenting Mexico’s war on drugs and capturing moments of gunfire and torture...as well as the life and motivations of “El Doctor” Jose Mireles."
Matthew Heineman talks with Ted Johnson for Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM about the drug wars and America's appetite for drugs.
Matthew Heineman joins CBS This Morning to discuss how he gained access to his subjects and the dangerous challenges he faced while filming.
Matthew Heineman speaks with Nightline about the drug wars and the conflict raging along the US/Mexican border.
Listen to Larry Mantle's interview with Matthew Heineman for KPCC "FilmWeek"!
Listen to Matthew Heineman discuss the making of Cartel Land on the Brian Lehrer Show!
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS
Matthew Heineman sat down with Seth Meyers to talk about Cartel Land!
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Cartel Land was awarded the 2015 Documentary Film Award by the prestigious George Polk Awards in Investigative Journalism!
Matthew Heineman wins the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary! “I hope this film will give voice to those trapped in the cycle of violence,” Heineman said in his acceptance.
Heineman is "interested in putting you in the middle of the immigration and drug war debates."
"How often do you watch a movie and wonder how many times the filmmaker’s life was actually in danger while making it? Probably not very often, right? Well, tune in to Netflix and watch director Matt Heineman’s Cartel Land, and that’ll be the very first thing you think."
Matthew Heineman wins the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary! “I hope this film will give voice to those trapped in the cycle of violence,” Heineman said in his acceptance.
Heineman: "My goal with the film was to provide a human face—an emotional and personal look—to how this violence was affecting everyday people. The response being everyday people rising up to fight back, and examining the ramifications when citizens decide to take the law into their own hands."
Matthew Heineman joined Matthew Cooke on PoliticKING to discuss Cartel Land.
Fusion sat down with Matthew Heineman to discuss his Oscar nomination, and "an audio recording from incarcerated vigilante leader Jose Manuel Mireles, who congratulates Heineman on the film that brought the two men together."
Matthew Heineman joined Charlie Rose to discuss Cartel Land.
"Heineman’s greatest achievement as a filmmaker isn’t the fact that he put himself in danger for these stories be told; it’s that he shot and edited the footage in a way that completely silences his voice, letting his subjects carry the narrative in their own words."
Cartel Land has topped the doc charts in Argentina, Columbia, Mexico and Paraguay simultaneously on iTunes!
Matthew Heineman: “I am profoundly honored by this Oscar nomination. Hopefully, it will give voice to those trapped by this senseless cycle of violence, suffering, and corruption.”
Cartel Land nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature!
Cartel Land wins Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography at the Cinema Eye Honors!
"The media circus surrounding the prison escape and recapture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, a cunning peasant farmer-turned billionaire drug lord of the famed Sinaloa Cartel, has captivated the world and, in many instances, glorified a vicious killer," writes Heineman for Variety.
Matthew Heineman nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for Cartel Land!
Cartel Land nominated for Best Documentary by the British American Film and Television Academy!
Cartel Land had its broadcast premiere January 4, 2016, on A&E!
CARTEL LAND named #4 documentary of 2015! "With the thrills of a Kathryn Bigelow action movie...and with the complexity and urgency of an analytical essay, Matthew Heineman’s you-are-there documentary explores vigilantism on both sides of the Mexico-Arizona border."
Indiewire (The Playlist)
CARTEL LAND named #9 film of 2015! "The cinematography is a saturated and crystal-clear depiction of this world, with all the agonies, tumult and tragedies on both sides of the border, and every shade of gray in between. The definitive 2015 cartel film."
CARTEL LAND named #8 film of 2015! "Jaw-droppingly, filmmaker Matthew Heineman found himself in the middle of actual fights several times, not only surviving, but emerging with impressive footage to boot."
CARTEL LAND named the #8 film of 2015 -- "rarely has a documentary created such tension"!
Heineman named the #1 new filmmaker of 2015 by Paste Magazine! "Shot with an assured attention to dramatic compositions and edited with a swiftness that generates uneasy, suspenseful momentum, Heineman’s documentary has the electricity of an adrenalized war film."
"Whether he was filming desert meth operations at twilight or documenting grisly shoot-outs, Heineman went to extreme lengths to tell a refreshingly nuanced portrait about the war on drugs."
Matthew Heineman on how he "picked up a camera and headed into the dangerous world of Mexico’s drug wars."
"Heineman sat down with Deadline’s Dominic Patten at the AwardsLine screening for the film to discuss his inspiration and the challenges of shooting in a country devastated by violence."
Heineman: "The more time I spent down there, it became this exploration and investigation of human behavior, almost like an "Animal Farm" or "Lord of the Flies." These lines between good and evil that I thought were clear became ever more blurry.”
"Tear through 2015’s best nonfiction films and you’ll see the great range of the modern documentary," including "the nail-biting battle footage of Cartel Land."
Cartel Land named #1 Documentary of 2015 by The Playlist! "First and foremost, (Heineman's) access is incredible and the resulting film is aesthetically stunning. But the film amounts to much more than just amazing visuals. In embedding himself on the ground, Heineman captures the moral conundrum of the drug wars —namely, the intense complexities that show just how difficult it is to untangle."
Cartel Land has been nominated for a Critics' Choice Award for Best Documentary of 2015!
The Hollywood Reporter
"A double-prize winner at this year’s Sundance — (Cartel Land) scored a special jury prize and best doc director honors — the film, with some peril to the filmmakers, follows vigilante groups battling drug cartels on both sides of the Arizona/Mexico border."
"Cartel Land is an eye-opening look into a violent world that still menaces today, and also poses a provocative question: At what point does fighting fire with fire become the only option?"
Cartel Land named #1 doc of 2015! "Heineman’s documentary has the electricity of an adrenalized war film... (It's) the rare non-fiction work that routinely keeps one’s nerves on edge."
Cartel Land tops the iTunes documentary chart for 2015!
Online Film Critics Society
Cartel Land has been nominated for Best Documentary by the Online Film Critics Society!
""Cartel Land" is a stunning work and is among the most vivid depictions of organized crime and its effects on Mexico in any medium."
"Watching films, it’s like poetry. If you read all the poetry in the world, most of it’s terrible. But every once in a while, there’s Keats... I’ve seen maybe a dozen in the last couple of years that I think are interesting. One of them was this film in Mexico about the drug trade: Cartel Land... The film showed you something nobody else was able to."
Kathryn Bigelow was on hand to present “Cartel Land” director Matthew Heineman with the Courage Under Fire Award at the 2015 IDA Awards!
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 15 films shortlisted for the Documentary Feature category for the 88th Academy Awards -- Cartel Land made the list!
Matthew Heineman: "I originally thought I was going to be down there for one week, which turned into one month, which turned into nine months... I think what really allowed me to get in these very intimate scenes I wanted to get was time."
"Discussing the surprising complexity of what he expected to be a classic black hat vs. white hat situation," director Matthew Heineman sat down with Anne Thompson for the International Documentary Association's screening series.
“Jaw-dropping. Intense. Compelling…One of the best documentaries of the year…It is the rare documentary that is as thrilling as a feature film but which allows for the frustrating complexity of real life. It’s the best of what documentary film should be.”
CARTEL LAND is "a remarkable portrait of two complex and charismatic characters...worthy of a Hollywood action movie."
The Hollywood Reporter Savannah Film Fest: Directors of 9 Top 2015 Docs Discuss Challenges, Rewards of Filmmaking
"Matthew Heineman [...and eight other 2015 documentary directors] sat down with THR's Scott Feinberg on the campus of SCAD."
Cartel Land "received five nominations for this year’s Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking."
CARTEL LAND "led the way with five nominations" - Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking, Direction, Production, Cinematography, and Original Music Score!
Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles selected for Cinema Eye's list of The Unforgettables - "the year’s most notable and significant nonfiction film subjects."
Cartel Land nominated for Best Documentary!
"This doc from Matthew Heineman is possibly the most exciting of the lot, with an added timeliness to boot."
"The Sundance Film Festival 2015 debut by Matthew Heineman has amassed an estimated $550K in just two weeks on VOD."
The New Yorker
“Stunning...By focussing on upstart vigilantes as they accrue power, the film reveals a reality more troubling than has been depicted by other drug-war stories.”
“★★★★ Tremendously cinematic…it is horribly real, an urgent and alarming account of a crisis so hellishly labyrinthine it’s hard to see how anyone can escape its widening web of violence, extortion and corruption….Cartel Land demands, and commands, your attention.”
“Heineman stayed and stayed, until he was under the skin of this horror, cheek-by-jowl with its faces, recording its human emotions and savage reality. The result is raw and relentless film-making; truth-telling cinema that captures a dark kernel of Mexico’s nightmare like no other to date. It will stand among the great documentaries on Mexico, and the most powerful in years.”
“★★★★ Astonishing…Matthew Heineman's documentary about the Mexican drug wars plays like a real-life version of some grim Sam Peckinpah Western in which violence and corruption have become endemic…as full of reversals and ironies as that of any fictional thriller.”
The Daily Mirror
“★★★★ Cartel Land is one of the best and most intense documentaries you'll see in years…jaw-droppingly intense.”
Time Out London
“★★★★ This gripping Mexican drug war doc makes 'Breaking Bad' look like kids' TV…Unlike anything you’ve seen...Timely, thoughtful and supremely well-constructed, we’d be stunned if this isn’t the doc to beat on Oscar night.”
"CARTEL LAND is raw and relentless film-making; truth-telling cinema that captures a dark kernel of Mexico’s nightmare like no other to date. It will stand among the great documentaries on Mexico, and the most powerful in years."
VICE spent the day with filmmaker Matthew Heineman during his first visit back to Mexico since the making of his unflinching documentary Cartel Land, which chronicles the plight of vigilante groups north and south of the border rising against gruesome drug cartels.
"After winning best director at Sundance following its premiere, director Kathryn Bigelow signed on as executive producer, boding well for its Oscar chances."
The Hollywood Reporter
“The documentary had the second-highest per-screen average during its first week in theaters, a remarkable feat considering it went up against big Hollywood summer releases including Terminator: Genisys, Inside Out and Jurassic World.
Sacramento News & Review
“Enthralling! a level-headed and unbelievably intimate piece of cinematic journalism"
"It’s difficult to think of a modern documentary as complex and well put together — not to mention as morally confounding — as Cartel Land"
“A direct, unfiltered cinéma vérité account of the battles between drug dealers, the Mexican authorities and the small towns that exist in the crossfire."
Film Music Media
“A chilling and textual score: evokes a sense of absolute dread at times, while still having this echo of humanity and life pulsing through it"
THE PLAYLIST/INDIEWIRE 20 Best Documentaries Of 2015 So Far
“The drugs war south of the border, and its impact in the U.S, has been a popular one in film in recent years, from “Traffic” through “Breaking Bad” to Cannes thriller “Sicario,” but few have captured the complexities and horrors as well as Matthew Heineman’s film…The access that Heineman’s managed to get, from being caught in the middle of gang battles to a Mexican meth lab, is simply staggering: that he manages to produce such an aesthetically striking film, one that has images that wouldn’t be out of place in the Roger Deakins-shot “Sicario,” is almost ridiculous. And out of them, he creates a genuinely complex look not just at the battle against the cartels, but in the morality of fighting fire with fire, and of taking the law into your own hands.”
“Harrowing…Emphatically in-the-moment, unpredictable...At once amazing and
"Stunning footage! a visceral document of the bi-national ramifications of the drug war—and the drug industry."
"The verite-style doc, which has earned plaudits for its access, contains a number of striking scenes, including one near the film’s end showcasing Mexican authorities' complicity that will do little to refute those who believe officials had a role in Guzman's escape."
“Raw and compelling!"
Minneapolis Star Tribune Reviewed in Brief
“FOUR STARS Shot in times of serious danger, it balances idealism and violence, triggering an adrenaline high and a sense of soul-crushing hopelessness in the same instant."
"At times, it’s a little difficult to believe that Cartel Land is, in fact, a documentary. The cinematography is so crisp and gorgeous, and the level of access filmmaker Matthew Heineman got to narcos (and anti-narco vigilantes) in Mexico verges on the improbable."
IndieWIRE / Sydney’s Buzz
“Riveting! Profoundly humanistic and intellectually complex work"
New York Magazine
"One of the year’s most important documentaries"
“Crackles with filmmaking savvy! Delivers the narrative propulsion and satisfaction of a first-rate fiction thriller."
“Cartel Land” puts viewers in the thick of the action on both sides of the border, with particularly vivid sequences in which Heineman’s camera ended up in shootouts and in a makeshift meth lab in the middle of the desert."
Christian Science Monitor
“Eye-opening! there’s nothing like seeing some of this stuff up close and for real. "
GRADE A-. RIVETING. One of the more heart-pounding, morally complex documentaries of recent-years. Heineman puts his camera, and himself, on the front lines. The immersion is total.”
Los Angeles Times
CRITICS PICK “The key to success in vérité documentaries is “access, access, access.” Which is what CARTEL LAND has in compelling amounts. The drug war in Mexico has resulted in numerous documentaries. CARTEL LAND is one of the most involving because of where its managed to go and what it’s managed to show us.”
“Devastating. One of the best documentaries i’ve seen this year. An extraordinary film. Matthew Heineman got unbelievable access. A tremendous achievement. This has shoot-outs that are scarier than anything I’ve seen in any fiction film.”
“A chilling glimpse into a world of violence and vigilantism. Bookending his film with interviews of masked meth lab workers cooking their stuff in big blue barrels, Heineman shows how an illegal billion-dollar drug trade has led to corruption, chaos, and carnage on both sides of the border."
"Heineman earns major props for his courage under fire while also capturing striking and indelible images."
Wall Street Journal
“A Bleakly Persuasive view of a decades-long combat that respects no boundaries, and seems to hold no promises of surcease. Mr. Heineman and his colleagues have cast light into the darkness and, most valuably, dramatized the anguish of Mexico’s innocents in a lawless time.”
"Beautifully shot film is about the hazy territory between questions and answers in the bloody drug wars in Mexico that bleed into Arizona."
San Francisco Chronicle Jaw-dropping doc about vigilantes in Mexico
“Jaw-dropping. Courageous. Nothing short of spectacular. Heineman has made a film not to be missed!”
“FASCINATING. Bristles with so much actual danger, from all sides.”
San Diego Reader
“One amazing story!"
"The film is a stirring work of cinema verité, bereft of talking heads and think-tank experts. Instead, Heineman simply lets the story unfold — one in which the lines between right and wrong seem to be hopelessly blurred."
"Fascinating and riveting. The new film grabs you and nails you to your seat and forces you to look at the consequences of Breaking Bad like no fictional show ever could."
NPR Fresh Air
“Gripping! Beautifully shot! evokes the scared confusion of dusty Mexican towns and captures the dangerous desolation of the Arizona desert where you don't know who you might run into at night."
"Fascinating and riveting. The new film grabs you and nails you to your seat and forces you to look at the consequences of "Breaking Bad" like no fictional show ever could."
“Harrowing. Breathtaking. Spectacular. With the fast-paced intensity of a real world
“FIVE STARS! hard-edged, thought-provoking film! The epitome of documentary filmmaking"
The Boston Globe
“Deserves to be seen. It puts human faces and motives on an issues we tend to think about in the abstract or as a source of horrific headlines. At times, it’s as though we’ve traveled through the looking glass and are watching BREAKING BAD from the real-world side.”
New York Times
“The director Matthew Heineman has a terrific eye. Serving as the primary cinematographer, he employs a run-and-gun style for much of the movie, using a lightweight digital camera that at times lurches so dramatically that you can visualize the body attached to it. Considering that Mr. Heineman landed in a few shootouts while making this documentary, both his camera moves and its pictorial quality are striking.”
AM New York
“Urgent and topical. Essential viewing!"
New York Daily News
“Extraordinary. Director Matthew Heineman’s camera shows the cost of lawlessness and the power — and institutional powerlessness — of the people."
"A work of both stunning beauty and stunning intimacy. A breathlessly paced thriller!"
“I originally thought that this was a very simple story, very quickly I realized that this story was much more complex and much more gray, that the lines between good and evil were not that clear."
"captures real-life gun fights on camera, is stunning to look at even though it was clearly made guerilla style on the fly"
“Powerful, emotional 'This is a movie that's going to stay with you’"
"A stunning work of war reportage nestled within a creaky study of ideological purity, Cartel Land reveals the extent of the chaos and corruption infecting Mexico's drug war."
For this episode of VICE Talks Film, Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker)—who recently signed on as an executive producer of the film—sat down with filmmaker Matthew Heineman to discuss his fearless process in capturing this harrowing story and the ever-evolving world of the cartel's stranglehold on communities north and south of the border.
New York Times Documentary Filmmakers Talk About Manipulation in Their Work
"One particular outbreak of gunfire that begins when Mr. Heineman is in the back of a car is as slick as anything in a big-budget Hollywood production."
"I think we all think the drug war is a big issue, and to see a film that really delves into it and to see how it affects people on both sides of the border is really fascinating. And exciting! It’s informative and a thrill ride.”
"More shocking than any fiction.”
"Cartel Land is skillfully balanced. The film is crisply photographed and tightly edited, both of which are essential to navigating so much narrative chaos and moral anarchy."
Entertainment Weekly Cartel Land: EW review
"“Grade A! Remarkable! What makes the vérité-style Cartel Land so chilling is its street-level immediacy and the filmmaker’s warts-and-all portrait of these so-called do-gooders—they’re no saints."
"A complex, harrowing documentary about drug gangs’ grip on Mexico (and the Mexican-American borderlands) that doubles as a portrait of the difficulties of grassroots revolutionary movements."
"Cartel Land, which tellingly won both the director and cinematography prizes at Sundance earlier this year, combines both qualities to devastating effect, like real life framed as a breathlessly paced thriller."
INDIEWIRE: The Playlist
"The drugs war south of the border, and its impact in the U.S, has been a popular one in film in recent years, from 'Traffic' through 'Breaking Bad' to Cannes thriller 'Sicario,' but few have captured the complexities and horrors as well as Matthew Heineman’s film."
"Dubbed a “classic Western set in the 21st century,” “Cartel Land” follows the vigilantes on both sides of the Mexican-American border, and is likely to be on everyone’s mind come awards season."
"Gorgeous! Beautifully filmed and fiercely evocative"
FLICKERING MYTH - “Sheffield Doc/Fest Review - Cartel Land”
"★ ★ ★ ★ Unfolds like a great thriller!"
"Border thriller Cartel Land, deserved winner of Doc/Fest’s crusading Tim Hetherington Award, is a crushing story of what you already suspected about violence and corruption in Mexico."
Cartel Land: The War On Drugs
"Intense and intimate portrait of the world of drug cartels in Michoacan."
"High-drama documentary filmed by an intrepid filmmaker who literally put himself in the firing line to tell his tale."
"Executive-produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Matthew Heineman's "Cartel Land"examines two citizens' vigilante groups."
"Incredible access for a tale about vigilantism, justice, and danger."
"A compelling exploration of both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border wars."
"It is powerfully visceral and engaging: its setting evokes a classic western movie, frontier lands and charismatic cowboys, but here the characters are painfully real, as are their battles."
“This July, VICE will partner with The Orchard to promote the release of Cartel Land—a Sundance Award–winning documentary about two vigilante groups and their shared enemy, the drug cartels who wreak havoc on their towns”
“Essential viewing! A profound, deeply disturbing, and unbelievably intense documentary tackling an issue that’s all too current.”
“A visionary masterpiece! An incredible documentation of a devastating situation that deserves the acclaim it has since achieved.”
The Playlist / IndieWIRE
“Cartel Land, the fascinating, infuriating documentary by Matthew Heineman, plunges us into the Mexican drugs wars without judgment or subjective bias.”
“Cartel Land isn’t only about the excitement of battle between good and evil, it’s also a study of how weirdly relative good and evil can be—and how sometimes they’re almost indistinguishable. At times, Cartel Land feels like Breaking Bad in real life, with characters even more complicated and controversial than Walter White.”
“This is filmmaking at its most potent, raw and visceral,” Bigelow said in a statement to EW. “Cartel Land invites you into the drug war and the unimaginable horror at its heart. A brilliant and cogent object lesson for all who want to stay informed. This is a powerful and important film of which I am proud to be a part.”
“Documentarian Matthew Heineman embeds with vigilante groups on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border to show how civilians have taken it upon themselves to fight drug cartels where institutions have failed, amidst terrible violence and police corruption.”
Creative Planet Network
“Filmmaker Matthew Heineman didn’t set out to put himself in the middle of a standoff between the Mexican military and a heavily armed vigilante group. Nor did he intend to spend any time crouched inside a car taking fire from members of a drug cartel. But his work on the feature documentary Cartel Land took him into both of those situations—and more.”
“Matthew Heineman's documentary starts out as a chronicle of everyday people taking on a national scourge; it ends up asking viewers to decide whether vigilantism produces folk heroes or merely a different kind of predator, and reminding us that to live outside the law, you must be honest.”
“The festival will open with a fundraising benefit night featuring Matthew Heineman's CARTEL LAND”
Eye For Film
“One person's armed vigilante is another person's guardian angel and the border between these two ideas is wafer thin and easily crossed as Matthew Heineman's beautifully shot and probing documentary shows.”
“A stark and immersive look at life in the battlefield in the war on drugs.”
“Award-winning director Matthew Heineman joins to talk about his new documentary.”
“I found myself in really dicey situations; shoot-outs, meth labs, torture cells.”
“The story the film tells isn't the simple heroes-and-villians take he originally set out to make. The more time he spent on the border, the more once-simple contrasts devolved into shades of gray.”
“Cartel Land paints a portrait of vigilantism that is both galvanizing and deeply troubling.”
"EXPLOSIVE. The director’s access has ensured that we get scenes of startling, real-life violence and hair-raising suspense. Heineman wants to thrill us and shock us into awareness. In that, he succeeds marvelously.”
AM New York
“A must see! A sprawling look at the life on the front lines of the war against drug cartels in Mexico”
“Ride-along documentaries don't get any more dangerous than Matthew Heineman's Cartel Land, a chilling cross-border exploration of vigilantes trying to fight a drug war their government can't win on their own”
Tribeca Film Festival
The Hollywood Reporter
“Spellbinding! Heineman vaults us into a true heart of darkness.”
“A tense, cinematically-styled verite documentary about the Mexican drug wars, Matthew Heineman's Cartel Land was one of the big winners at Sundance this year, nabbing both the Directing and Cinematography Awards.”
“Cartel Land is staggering, stunning. The best documentary I’ve seen in a very long time.”
"Heart attack inducing."
"Riveting...The film plays more like a drama than a non-fiction film."
“It's reasonable to feel assured that at least one of Sundance's docs will end up an Oscar nominee, if not two, three, four or all five...we'd give "Going Clear," "Best of Enemies," "The Wolfpack" and "Cartel Land" the very early upper hand."
"Plays like staged battles seen in modern war movies such as The Hurt Locker or American Sniper."
"Access, access, access is the driving force in Matthew Heineman's astonishing documentary."
"An astonishing journalistic achievement, the film brilliantly follows the trajectory of the story down a path that's as shocking as it is nihilistic. With sequences right out of a war film...This is a film that's both timely and timeless, an examination of what appears to be an unassailable cycle of awfulness."
"Heineman directs the movie so that it almost doesn't feel like a documentary, largely thanks its beautiful cinematography."
"Brilliant, incredible, dark, and all-too-current...the movie feels almost like an action-thriller...with the force of a punch right in the heart...a tight, dark, and powerful narrative that's almost too dramatic to be true."
"A chilling, heart-pounding, hell-ride into the front lines of battle… Aesthetically, it is a vibrant, electrifying work, with stunning visuals and a sure hand…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."
"Deftly edited, and filmed with a feel for the deadly volatility of drug violence."
"Heineman is on the front lines to chronicle a war of fascinating, shifting morality and provocative developments which more than once upend the audience's expectations, making this far more than a standard David vs Goliath story."
Wall Street Journal
"The work was very powerful this year, with new levels of boldness and intensity coming from the independent film world. You feel it." -- John Cooper
Los Angeles Times
"The U.S documentary competition will showcase Matthew Heineman's "Cartel Land," a story about powerful drug cartels set on both sides of the U.S-Mexican border."
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