Filmmaker Shaul Schwarz talks ‘Narco Cultura’

Filmmaker Shaul Schwarz recently spoke with “Breakthrough Entertainment” about his new documentary “Narco Cultura.”

In “Narco Cultura,” which opens Friday, Dec. 6, Schwarz looks at the explosive phenomenon in which narco traffickers have become iconic outlaws and the new models of fame and success, representing a pathway out of the ghetto – a new form of the American Dream, fueled by the war on drugs.

Listen to “Breakthrough Entertainment’s” full interview with Schwarz by clicking HERE. The following is an excerpt from the interview in which the filmmaker discusses his level of fear while making “Narco Cultura.”

I was scared many times while making this movie. We expected Juarez to be dangerous – and it was. People get very suspicious. We rode around with CSI units and would get out of the van as non-Mexican civilians with recording gear in our hands and the cartels are literally everywhere. People would so commonly whisper, ‘Who is that? Stop doing what you’re doing!’

I really think that eight out of 10 times we we would go out we would not be able to film. And you have to respect that. It is so dangerous. Your life could literally be on the line within a split-second if you make a wrong decision. So we couldn’t just say, ‘Well I have a right to film here. I’m on public land.’ ‘No’ was really ‘no’ on this film and we took it seriously.

But what surprised us is that we got such great access from the other side of the movie. We followed the Los Angeles-based band Buknas de Culiacan. We didn’t expect that to get too scary. Sure, it is quite an edgy club scene, but we got so close and more and more connected to the actual trafficking world.

The access that we got through the band was very unique – especially on the trip to Mexico. We got very close to the belly of the beast. And that was scary. It was not your regular access into the drug war and I certainly knew what I was trying to do when we took the decision to take the trip but I won’t lie – I was scared.” – Shaul Schwarz

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at

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