‘Narco Cultura’ and 6 Other Must-See Drug War Documentaries

Narcocorridos — bright-toned Mexican folk songs about guns, money, drugs — have attracted an audience in both Mexico and the U.S.

The music is at once a byproduct of the Mexican drug war and a response to it. A sonic portrait of the criminal landscape and a way to feel empowered when faced with a broken system of morality and law-and-order.

But there’s a place where the music and reality meet. That’s what director Shaul Schwarz tries to find in his new documentary film Narco Cultura.

Here’s a preview of the film and a look at six other drug war documentaries that you should see.

The House I Live In: This 2012 film upends some accepted maxims about drug use and criminality in the U.S.

Reportero: While the rest of us ‘journalists’ sit behind our computers and make lists about things, some really brave reporters are risking their lives to report on the drug war.

How to Make Money Selling Drugs: The movie explains just that: how someone goes from a street-level dealer to a kingpin, and challenges the logic of criminalizing drugs. Adrian Grenier produced.

El Velador: As the Los Angeles Times pointed out in September 2012, “there are no shootouts, no decapitated bodies hanging from highway overpasses” in this low-key documentary. Just a snapshot of a cemetery in Culiacan, a city in northwestern Mexico that’s been associated with drug trafficking.

El Velador Trailer (medium resolution) from Natalia Almada on Vimeo.

The Mexican Mormon War — Part 1: VICE finds out why some Mexican cartel leaders want Mormons dead.

Crossing Mexico’s Other Border: More about immigration than drugs, this VICE mini-doc looks at migrants crossing Mexico’s southern border, and the drug gangs they need to confront on the way.