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What a wonderful turn-out (sold out!) at this great venue – and fantastic that just days before the screening, CARTEL LAND made it onto the documentary short-list for the 88th Academy Awards next year.
Raw, brutal, and bitter, CARTEL LAND offers a ground-level look at vigilante efforts to thwart organised crime on the Mexican-American border. The film’s protagonist, Jose Mireles, was arrested in June 2014 for the unlawful possession of firearms. Since then, he has been refused bail and removed to a prison 1,000 miles from home. His trial is underway but it looks like it will be a long, drawn-out affair. Amongst other things his lawyer, Javier Livas, has complained of the failure of police and other witnesses to turn up, and of failed Skype calls to Mireles’ cell setting things back by weeks at a time.
All the while, vigilante groups across Mexico have grown fragmented and started fighting amongst themselves rather than against their nominal enemy, the cartels.
But Livas remains positive: “Mr Mireles showed what one man achieve,” he says. “He’s an inspiration to all of us as we seek a way out of this war. Surrender isn’t the only option.”
It was an honour to be screening the film as part of the Bath Film Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The festival comes to an end this Sunday but hurry and you can still catch some great documentaries before it closes:
THE DREAM OF SHAHRAZAD (6pm, Fri 11th Dec, Odeon) links the famous 1001 Nights tales with Middle Eastern politics and current affairs through traditional storytelling mediums.
STAR MEN (6pm, Sat 12th Dec, Odeon) is a humorous documentary that follows four leading astronomers on a road trip across the American Southwest as they celebrate 50 years of friendship.