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350 Ratings

Cartel Land

Directed by Matthew Heineman
United States, 2015


In this classic Western set in the 21st century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, and the breakdown of order.

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Cartel Land Directed by Matthew Heineman

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

2016 | Nominee: Best Documentary, Feature

Sundance Film Festival

2015 | 2 wins including: Documentary (Cinematography Award)

Indiewire Critics' Poll

2015 | Nominee: Best Documentary

BAFTA Awards

2016 | Nominee: Best Documentary

The structural organisation of Cartel Land at once resembles a typical profile doc and a typical action film. The primary story arc has been crafted comfortably into a hero/downfall progression, and scenes are played for maximum emotional impact and breathless thrill. Shot in 'Scope with an ultra-professional score and impressive in-the-middle-of-war camerawork, the film is made up of moments that could easily be transported into a fictionalised version of itself.
July 31, 2015
Any discussion of how the evolution of digital cameras has transformed documentary filmmaking would do well to start with Matthew Heineman's Cartel Land, a work of both stunning beauty and stunning immediacy.
July 01, 2015
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How rare, and what a thrill, to see a documentary that could double in large part as its own narrative remake. Most docs are woefully uncinematic, strings of talking heads and archival footage that too often ends with links to "for further information" websites. Cartel Land, exhilaratingly, could not be translated into an op-ed piece.
April 27, 2015
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