Cartel Land

USA | 2015 | 98 minutes | Matthew Heineman

With unprecedented access to vigilante groups both north and south of the U.S./Mexico border, this vibrant and electrifying cinematic expose captures searing footage from the front lines of the drug wars, tackling an issue that cannot be conveniently remedied or ignored. Director Matthew Heineman scheduled to attend.

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The June 1 screening is on STANDBY. There are no advance tickets available.


In this ground zero documentary, filmmaker Matthew Heineman examines two vigilante groups involved in the Mexican drug cartel. Dr. Jose Mireles is the head organizer of a citizens’ paramilitary group against the violent cartels that have basically run their town of Michoacan with terror for years. The film’s second central focus is on Tim “Nailer” Foley, an American vet who heads another vigilante group called the Arizona Border Recon, who does their best to keep drug activity away from the US border. Neither group encompasses perfection however, with Mireles’ organization struggling not to succumb to the problematic forces they are fighting, and Foley leading what is being recognized as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Featuring jaw-dropping footage of the violence and gritty reality of the drug war, these two chilling portraits of involvement pose difficult questions on moral ambiguity, the unsettling similarities between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides, and realization that there may not be a solution.

Director Biography
Matthew Heineman is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker from New York. He has produced and directed numerous short films and commercials, and was a collaborating member on the Emmy-nominated HBO series “The Alzheimer’s Project.” In 2009, he founded the film production company Our Time Projects, where he produced and directed his documentary features: “Our Time” (2009), “ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare” (2012), and “Cartel Land” (2015).

Sponsored by KUOW 94.9

  • Director: Matthew Heineman
  • Country: USA, Mexico
  • Year: 2015
  • Running Time: 98 minutes
  • Producer: Matthew Heineman, Tom Yellin
  • Cinematographers: Matthew Heineman, Matt Porwoll
  • Editors: Matthew Heineman, Matthew Hamachek, Bradley J. Ross, Pax Wassermann
  • Music: H. Scott Salinas, Jackson Greenberg
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Sundance 2015 (US Documentary Directing Award, Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography)
  • Filmography: Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare (Doc, 2012), Our Time (Doc, 2009)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Cinetic Media