“Narco Cultural,” a gritty, real-war, documentary, from Ocean Size Pictures and Parts & Labor Productions, offers a shocking look into Mexico’s Drug War, its sudden glorification, and the devastation left in its wake.
Filmed entirely by Israeli photojournalist Shaul Schwarz,”Narco Cultural,” begins with a scene that has played out over 60,000 times in the past six years: a drive-by shooting resulting in another cold-blooded, senseless murder.
In Juarez Mexico, the murder rate has exploded since 2006, as the Sinaloa Drug Cartel and drug war lords stake out more territory, making it the murder capital of Mexico. El Paso, Texas, five miles north, rests easy with only five murders in a single year making it one of the safest cities in America. Only five miles separate the Mexican Drug Militia from the United States Border.
As “Narco Cultural,” opens the powerless police, who put their lives at risk each day attempting to end the senseless slaughter, race to the scene. With black masks covering their faces, they process the crime scene.
Riding along with the local police they explain how they have become targeted. As much as possible, they maintain anonymity.
The Sinaloa Cartel means business and the threats against the Juarez Police are very real. Four members of the team have been assassinated. The police have been known to leave the job, after receiving a death threat, and never return.
The distressing and affecting film parallels two cultures: The abandoned, boots on the ground, everyday, citizens of Juarez who openly speak of Mexico’s former President Felipe Calderon and current President Enrique Oena Nieto engaging in a drug war and leaving them behind enemy lines to fight the most dangerous Cartel in the world with sticks and stones.
The Cartel doesn’t stop with simply murder; they murder, mutilate, decapitate, slice and scatter the body parts as messengers to the any who would question their authority.
In order to understand “Narco Cultural,” one must understand the deeply embedded cultural roots in the Latin Americas and specifically Mexico.
“Narco Cultural,” also follows a pair of Mexican music producers who are credited with creating the narco-gangsta lifestyle represented in the new wave of Mexican rap.
The Mexican American and Latino population in the U.S. embrace “Narco Cultural,” smuggling this new brand of music that glorifies the drug culture and lifestyle with an intensity creating an urban mythical giant in the states.
It may be a different tune for a different generation and still the weapons, the weed and the Benjamin’s, the “Smugglers Blues,” have been the foundation for lyrics in the past and have created the same phenomenon in the 1980’s that is currently heard in music coming out of this, South of the Border, drug war.
The lifestyle glorified in America during the rise of the drug trade in films like Oliver Stone’s “Scarface,” are the premise of the “Narco Cultural” which is spreading across America and not only in the southwest. Clubs in many cities have dedicated nights to “narcocorridas.”
“Narco Cultural,” presents a poignant, riveting and gripping documentary. The news media shields the American public from any perception of failed policy. The sheer numbers alone reflect the failure of the current administration’s policy. The Mexican president is accused by wailing mothers of abandoning the city in an civil war not unlike the current situation in Syria.
Body parts are bagged and tagged. 98% of the murders will never be solved. Morgues are full; police are powerless; prisons guards are fortunate to live another day and like any person of intelligence, walk, and walk swiftly when the Narcos takes over the prison.
One would think the western media would be on this story, in force, and yet the streets, except for the continued sounds of machine gun and the screams of another murder, are eerily empty. It is as if the entire world has abandoned this small parcel of land, five miles from the U.S. border, to the encroaching enemy.
Narco-traffickers have become iconic outlaws, glorified by musicians who praise their new models of fame and success. They represent a pathway out of the ghetto, nurturing a new American dream fueled by an addiction to money, drugs, and violence.
“Narco Cultural,” premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was featured in the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, as well as Hot Docs and Fantastic Fest.
“Narco Cultural,” is a must see and will be released in New York and Los Angeles on November 22, 2013.