Orchard takes North American theatrical for “Cartel Land”

New York-headquartered distributor The Orchard has picked up North American theatrical and digital rights to Matthew Heineman's Sundance award-winning doc on the Mexican drug war, Cartel Land (pictured).
February 12, 2015

New York-headquartered distributor The Orchard has picked up North American theatrical and digital rights to Matthew Heineman’s documentary on the Mexican drug war, Cartel Land (pictured).

Set for release this fall, the deal comes after the doc was awarded directing and cinematography prizes at the Sundance Film Festival last month. UK distributor Dogwoof also took the international rights to the film earlier in February.

The film - billed as “a chilling meditation on the breakdown of order and the blurry line between good and evil” – follows two vigilante groups battling Mexican drug cartels from either side of the Mexico-U.S. border. While the paramilitary group Arizona Border Recon monitors a 52-mile desert stretch in Arizona’s Altar Valley, the civilian-led Autodefensas in Mexico combat the Knights Templar cartel.

Cartel Land is produced by The Documentary Group and Our Time Projects for A&E IndieFilms. Tom Yellin of The Documentary Group served as producer, while Molly Thompson, Bob DeBitetto and David McKillop exec produced for A&E IndieFilms.

The deal was negotiated by The Orchard’s Danielle DiGiacomo and Cinematic Media’s Linzee Troubh and John Sloss, on behalf of the filmmakers.

Cartel Land has been a wild adventure to make and unfolded in a way that I could never have predicted,” said Heineman in a statement. “I’m thrilled that The Orchard has joined the team and will be bringing our story about the conflict between idealism and violence to a broad audience.”

Paul Davidson, The Orchard’s senior VP of film and TV, added: “Cartel Land is an impressive, dramatic film that takes hold and doesn’t let go until the final gripping moments. Having the opportunity to share Matt’s film with audiences and partner with A&E IndieFilms on the release is a rush for all of us.”

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty