Filmmaker Matthew Heineman won the Best Director (U.S. Documentary) award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for “Cartel Land.” After viewing the first trailer for the documentary, released by distributor The Orchard, it’s easy to see why. For “Cartel Land,” Heineman took a major risk by embedding himself with two modern-day vigilante groups trying to take down the murderous Mexican drug cartels. The footage showcased in the riveting trailer shows just how close Heineman got to the action.
The official synopsis reads: “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.”
Kathryn Bigelow, who’s listed as an executive producer on the project, signed on following the film’s Sundance win, where it also netted Best Cinematography (U.S. Documentary) honors. The Orchard opens the film in select theaters July 3.