"Cartel Land" is a gritty look into the Mexican drug trade and the resulting vigilante self-defense group, the "Autodefensas." The creators of this documentary are fearless. Following around meth-cooking members of drug cartels and soldiers in vigilante groups in Mexico is a pretty tall order. Throughout the documentary, they are witnesses to shootouts, house raids, and the torturing of potentially innocent people. The story is fascinating as the heroes become the demons that they fight against. The attitude shifts from protecting their towns to killing anybody who might pose a threat in the future. The documentary is incredibly relevant as the spilling over of this gang violence into the United States is a daily threat. There are only a few instances of disturbing imagery but the language should definitely be a deterrent for younger audiences, even though this material would be of interest to the high school age group. I had no idea that these threats were occurring in Mexico but this documentary does an excellent job of painting a vivid image. I don't believe that "Cartel Land" deserves to win an Oscar but it is certainly worthy of its nomination.
[Pictured: That awkward moment when the bad guys are given government uniforms]