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Cartel Land (2015)

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A physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Across the U.S. border, a veteran heads a paramilitary ... See full summary »


2,280 ( 96)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
José Manuel 'El Doctor' Mireles ...
Enrique Peña Nieto ...
Himself (archive footage)


A physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Across the U.S. border, a veteran heads a paramilitary group working to prevent Mexico's drug wars from entering U.S. territory. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

: Rated R for violent disturbing images, language, drug content and brief sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

3 July 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tierra de cárteles  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$124,000 (USA) (17 July 2015)


$704,352 (USA) (13 November 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Winner of the George Polk Award for documentary film in 2016. The prize is meant to honor reporters who advanced vital national conversations with their masterful investigative reporting. See more »


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User Reviews

Two men stood against on the different side of the border for the same cause.
24 January 2016 | by (Somewhere in the Cosmos) – See all my reviews

I was not sure what to expect from this film. By seeing its poster, my mind was very clear that it definitely some serious subject. I'm kind of a person who's not okay with the lions killing a zebra on the animal planet, so I was worried about the clips they might show would be too violence. You know, in the movies everything's fake, and this isn't a movie, but a documentary. That's why I simply disliked 'The Act of Killing'.

The opening scene was something like 'Breaking Bad', so I thought it might told from the bad guy's perspective about how their network and business would work. But everything drastically changed after the 5- 10 minutes of the film. It's where the original story commence.

The two main characters were introduced who are fighting for a same cause, but separated by the international line. Across the border, under the different society and government, how these two sacrifice their lives in battle against the dangerous networks that threatens the peace is the story.

In a small town on the southern border of the US, a small paramilitary team headed by Tim has taken such a measure to prevent the all kinds of trafficking. In the same line, Dr. Mireles from the Michoacan, Mexico, goes a bit bigger and stronger by forming a force with the volunteered people with arms to fight for the same mission.

The film had many the phases, not like the chapters or the episodes, but like a split in the narration to cover the other side of the story. The stories of two men and their undertaking was the prime focus. That's what I thought, you know I felt it was a modern day 'The Magnificent Seven', but in the larger scale of everything. Only until a twist that surprised me, because I was not thought a tale would turn like this.

"I believe what I'm doing is good. And I believe what I'm standing up against is evil."

So what's the twist? I tell you, you know, one man was doing his task all by himself with the help of a few other buddies. On the other side, the man's contribution becomes the nation and international news and publicity. In such circumstance, a fame can turn the destiny of a man on whatever side. It's not like why he did what he had done, but a default human nature.

I thought 'Heli' was a fictional work. After seeing this documentary I'm not sure how to judge any country by what they depict in their films. Every nation has its flaws, but I wondered why Mexican government was so blind over drug trafficking as shown in this film, if the information was correct. The absence of the federal law enforcement agencies on those disputed places is really a humiliation for the government after this film officially entered the Oscars race.

I don't think taking action again them won't collapse the nation or the economy. And again, I'm not the right person here to analyse and predict the nation's fate. I've never been to Mexico and I know little about Mexico, but all this only because of the curious to know the truth, that's all. When it comes to the filmmaking, I don't know how it was made.

Documentaries usually follows with the series of interviews and the recorded clips, in this it was a live shot like any entertainment film. Maybe I must look for director's Q&A for the answers. But something was sure, that production happened at the right place at the right time.

This a very good documentary film, very gripping and interesting storyline with the characters. I don't watch documentaries on the regular basis and to be honest, I saw it for the Oscars nod, to know what its special. I don't think it is going to win, certainly I can't either rule out the chances as it made this far. Anything might happen, so wait and see.

It had a few dull moments, lot like a pause in the narration or took a wrong diversion after the first half. But during the conclusion, brought back to the track and clarified many doubts, yet leave a few unanswered. Not for the sake of the Academy Awards nominee, you can give it a try if you feel you're interested to know why the people are taking arms in their hands to fight the evil force that corrupting our society.


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