NARCO CULTURA

Director Shaul Schwarz
Year 2013
Starring Richi Soto, Edgar Quintero, El Komander, Sandra Rodriguez
Run Time 102min
More Info IMDb

Can you make a living through the glorification of murder? This documentary by Shaul Schwarz examines how the key players in the Mexican drug wars are celebrated by "narcocorridos," who glorify the violence of the cartels in song.

The same men many see as merciless murderers and narcotics traffickers are hailed by these musicians as high-living heroes in often-banned pop songs that nevetheless have strong followings on both sides of the border. "There’s a burgeoning subset of Mexican culture that celebrates the cartels as the best way for a man to gain respect, money, and power," wrote Russ Fischer in SlashFilm. "It’s scary stuff, like the fears people once had about gangsta rap realized and intensified through a subculture that applauds the actions of drug runners who have murdered thousands of people in Juarez in the last few years."

Meanwhile, in Juarez, a city with one of the world's highest murder rates, crime scene investigators like Richi Soto see the less-glamorous side of the picture as they witness the carnage first-hand.

"It’s no secret that the body count is obscene: more than 60,000 lives lost via drug-related violence between late 2006 and late 2012 in Mexico," noted Variety critic Geoff Berkshire when the documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. "That’s the reality of 34-year-old Soto’s daily life as he’s called to investigate crime scene after crime scene, only to see much of the evidence he collects filed away into a black hole of cold cases due to corruption, indifference or understandable exhaustion."

While narcocorrido balladeer Edgar Quintero and his fellow musicians sing about the chaos in Juarez from their comfortable perches in L.A., the lawmen face death threats and mounting body counts. "If audiences reject the film’s topic as too unsavory or depressing to contend with, they’ll simply be proving one of the filmmaker’s key points," Berkshire pointed out. "Despite the staggering statistics, not enough people are paying attention."

"....as overwhelming as it is absorbing." --Geoff Berkshire, VARIETY

 

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