Screened as part of NZIFF 2015

Cartel Land 2015

Directed by Matthew Heineman Framing Reality

“Matthew Heineman’s troubling documentary about vigilante groups on both sides of the border in the porous region between Mexico and the Southwestern US – an area increasingly taken over by drug cartels – is explosive stuff.” — New York

Jul 29

Light House Cinema Petone

Aug 09


Mexico / USA In English and Spanish with English subtitles
98 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Matthew Heineman
Tom Yellin


Matthew Heineman
Matt Porwoll


Matthew Hamachek
Matthew Heineman
Bradley J. Ross
Pax Wassermann


H. Scott Salinas
Jackson Greenberg


José Manuel Mireles
Tim ‘Nailer’ Foley
Paco Rangel Valencia


Tribeca 2015


Directing and Cinematography Awards (US Documentary), Sundance Film Festival 2015

Matthew Heineman’s unnervingly action-based documentary captures the impact of Mexican drug cartels on both sides of the border with you-are-there immediacy. With staggering frontline access, Heineman observes the retaliatory forces that have formed in the wake of oppressive cartel violence: the Autodefensas, a Mexican vigilante group who fight to free their townships from cartel dominion, and the Arizona Border Recon, a makeshift American militia hellbent on defending their border from traffickers. It’s a portrait that refuses to shy away from complication; while the cartels are depicted as unequivocally horrific (with their crimes often recounted to us in harrowing detail), Heineman is equally as interested in the troubling patterns forming amidst the resistance. His film emerges a dangerous, fiercely gripping drug-war saga that examines the cyclical nature of corruption and the ways in which noble intentions can become distorted by violence and power. — JF

“There’s no lack of immediacy in the footage south of the border, where Heineman, who filmed with a small crew and served as one of his own cinematographers, captures the eruption of live fire, a gunpoint interrogation in the back of a moving car and even a scene of torture. Several instances make you fear for the filmmakers’ safety.” — Ben Kenigsberg, Variety

“While there’s no minimizing the valor and skill of the filmmaker, credit also goes to his talented co-cinematographer, Matt Porwoll, for capturing the mayhem and malice in the lands ravaged by the cartels.” — Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter