Jeremy Kinser, Festival Writer
“It has to be safer over there,” says a young boy in Juarez, Mexico, known as the murder capital of the world, looking through a fence toward El Paso, Texas, just 50 yards away and consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the U.S. It’s the first of countless haunting, often brutal, harrowing images that fill Narco Cultura, a blistering examination of a culture that has made narcotics traffickers into iconic outlaws and the new models of fame and success. The film opens in New York Friday, November 22, and expands throughout the country in December.
The first feature-length documentary from Israeli-born photojournalist Shaul Schwarz (who’s also responsibly for the film’s striking cinematography) focuses on a Los Angeles-based narco-ballad singer whose violent lyrics reflect the turbulent lifestyle, and a crime scene-investigator in constant fear for his family’s safety as his associates are being murdered by members of the cartel.
At last January’s Sundance Film Festival premiere, Schwarz was quick to say he doesn’t pretend to have a simple solution for the crisis, but made it clear that it isn’t just Mexico’s problem, and admitted that Juarez is a really hard place to play investigative journalist.
“I wanted to show that that we’re a little bit in denial,” he said. “We like to call it the Mexican drug war, but there’s $50 billion dollars coming from [the United States]. We supply 95% of the guns that go down there. We could talk about policy all day and I kind of hope you go home and think about it. I wanted to make a movie about two people who have fallen into this and show that this affects a whole generation. If we keep denying it it’s not going to get any better.”