Academy Awards (Nominee): Best Documentary Feature
British Academy Award (Nominee): Best Documentary
Cinema Eye Honors (1 Win, 5 Nominations): Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Feature Filmmaking, Direction, Production, Cinematography (Winner), 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): 2015 Documentary Award
Gotham Independent Film Awards (Nominee): Best Documentary
International Documentary Association (Winner): Courage Under Fire Award
Primetime Emmy Awards (3 Wins, 5 Nominations): Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking (Winner), Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program (Winner), Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Winner)
Sundance Film Festival (Winner): Best Director, Special Grand Jury Price for Cinematography
'Raw and relentless film-making; truth-telling cinema that captures a dark kernel of Mexico's nightmare like no other to date.'
– Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian
'Jaw dropping. Nothing short of spectacular...these you-are-there moments represent the documentary form at its best, offering a testament to how filmmakers risk everything to tell us important stories.”
– David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle
"Astonishing. Filled with the kind of unexpected events only reality provides."
– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
'Visceral. Urgent. Unnerving. Mr Heineman has a terrific eye.'
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
With unprecedented access, Academy Award® nominated and Primetime Emmy Award winning 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.
CARTEL LAND was released theatrically nationwide by The Orchard in July 2015. The film had its broadcast premiere on A&E in January 2016. It is now available on VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix.