LightBox | Time

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For all the horror, these are remarkably beautiful images, and that makes Narco Cultura stand out from a lot of documentaries filmed in conflict zones. Most conflict films are exhausting and upsetting enough; jittery, hand-held camerawork and quick edits can leave the audience feeling even more drained. Shaul Schwarz lets you breathe. When Soto describes his city – the battlefield that is Juarez – as “beautiful” you can see that beauty with your own eyes. You can see why Soto doesn’t really want to move to the land of the safe, sanitized mall even if it would save his life. Ciudad Juarez has become a city most outsiders would assume every sane resident wants to abandon. Schwarz’s bravery and patience allows Soto to show us why he’s risking his life to try to make Juarez safe again.

LightBox | Time

Read the latest stories about LightBox on Time

TIME contract photographer Shaul Schwarz writes for LightBox about his experience documenting years of drug-related violence in Mexico.