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The Orchard Goes Down to the Border in “Cartel Land”

10854395_1595955510635280_7125245618147132113_oSo often in war zones, citizens are left stranded in situations that have no clear black and white moral compass, leading them to question where the road truly diverges between right and wrong. Such is the case with the protagonists in Matthew Heineman‘s award-winning documentary Cartel LandBut rather than twiddle their thumbs, these harrowing citizens answer their questions of morality by taking the law into their own hands.

Director Matthew Heineman was initially drawn to the world of Mexican and Arizonan vigilante groups after reading articles about their ongoing involvement in the war on drugs. When he dug deeper, his findings were so chilling and unlike any he’d ever seen, he only knew of one solution: record it all on film.

In Cartel Land, which by the way won both Sundance’s Directing Award and Special Jury Award for Cinematography in U.S. Documentary Competition, Heineman gives his audience unparalleled access to lands overrun by drug cartel both north and south of the U.S./Mexico border. Think Breaking Bad meets Robin Hood, and you have the Autodefensas and team “Nailer,” two vigilante groups who’ve taken it upon themselves to fight against the terrorizing drug lords wreaking havoc in their lands. As you might expect, this true-life western walks a very thin line between good and evil.

We’ve picked up this absolute gem of a documentary, what Collider calls “a tight, dark, and powerful narrative that’s almost too dramatic to be true,” and we’ll be pushing it out digitally and theatrically later this year. For more info, read our official press release, The Hollywood Reporter’s news on the deal, and watch a sneak-peek below:

Sundance Special: “Finders Keepers” Finds Its Home with The Orchard

10505615_796594467072545_3409195416410715561_nThis is one of those “stories” that, no matter how you tell it, it will always sound like something straight from The Twilight Zone. Except this is no story — this is real life exposed through narrative. Meet Finders Keepers, Sundance 2015’s weirdest documentary (co-directed by Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel) that follows the battle over an amputated leg, and just so happens to be our latest film acquisition.

The story begins just as it should: one of the documentary’s producers Ed Cunningham (Undefeated) overhears restaurant-goers talking about a severed foot that had been found in a barbecue smoker bought at an auction. Cunningham, his interest piqued, starts to dig. Ultimately, he uncovers John Wood’s tragic story — the leg was his, he’d lost it in a plane crash (the same one that killed his father), tried to save it for sentimental purposes, and lost it when his drug and alcohol addiction got the best of him, forcing him to sell almost everything he owned. Enter Shannon Whisnant, self-proclaimed entrepreneur and the lucky bidder who lands Wood’s locker-full-of-wonders. Whisnant seizes the “opportunity” to garner fame as “The Foot Man,” raking in his fortune by offering peeks of the severed leg. Ultimately (and perhaps as destiny would have it), the two go head to head in a custody battle over Wood’s leg, winding them up on sitcom-television in front of Judge Mathis‘s audience.

One of the more bizarre stories you’ll ever hear? Probably. Best part? It’s 100% fact. And we’ll be dishing out this stranger-than-fiction film experience to North American audiences later this year. We added the doc to our bag of Sundance goodies yesterday and will have it ready for you shortly! Check out more of the deal news in The Hollywood Reporter’s press coverage, and watch a snippet of the film below:

Sundance Special: We Get Swingin’ With “The Overnight”

the-overnightSundance, we have arrived! And in a very big way. Just last night, we nabbed rights to The Overnight in Park City, UT on the 4th day of the Festival. It’s a steamy, sexy comedy that already created sparks on Sundance’s red carpet, and after some intense bidding rounds, we secured it for distribution in North America.

The film stars some of Hollywood’s finest: Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Jason Schwartzman (The Darjeeling LimitedThe Grand Budapest Hotel), Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black) and Judith Godreche (The Man in the Iron Mask). As if that’s not enough for this A-lister soiree, the Duplass brothers (yep, the ones basically owning Sundance this year with all their projects) are behind the film’s production.

So what’s the story here? Well, even though the movie’s storyline is based on a chance meeting of two kids at a playground, it’s definitely not suitable for children’s eyes. Alex (Scott) and Emily (Schilling) are new to the LA area and on the lookout for friends their age. Their son hits it off with Kurt’s (Schwartzman), who incidentally invites the couple to his home for dinner and a playdate of their own. As you might’ve guessed, the dinner party tuns into a swingers’ party and the couples’ night gets steadily kinkier.

Check out all the news in our official press release, press coverage from Variety and Consequence of Sound, and hear director Patrick Brice‘s take on his film below:

 

Let’s Go to The Movies: “Rich Hill” Premieres in Theaters

Rich Hill PosterDoors opened on Friday to the highly anticipated theatrical release of Rich Hill. The buzz around this film began in January, when it won the prestigious Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and it hasn’t stopped. Now the wait is over: Rich Hill is in theaters and — beginning today — available on iTunes.

The documentary chronicles the lives of three boys in an impoverished Midwestern town and the unique struggles they confront with their families. A year and a half of filming was masterfully edited into a 92-minute feature film, and the result is breathtaking. Critics have been singing the praises of Rich Hill as a social document, calling it a “vital documentary” and a “great service.” Indiewire even said that the film is “the type of media object that could and should be put in a time capsule for future generations.”

Visually, it has been hailed as “overwhelmingly gorgeous,” the work of a “gifted cinematographer with a poet’s eye.” The doc has earned spots on the “Must-See Lists” of Indiewire and Rolling Stone, as well as comparisons to the likes of Terrence Malick and to the recent film Boyhood.

For the film’s theatrical premiere, 15 year-old Andrew Jewell, one of the three boys from Rich Hill, joined Emmy Award-winning director Tracy Droz Tragos in New York City. The pair gave interviews on WNYC Radio and MSNBC, and participated in a Q&A following the theatrical premiere. Next, look out for Tracy Droz Tragos discussing the film on The Daily Show on August 7th. As the buzz around Rich Hill continues, you can find its theatrical listings here and box office information here. Rich Hill is also available on iTunes here.

Check out photos from the premiere and Andrew’s trip to NYC below:

 

Talk About a Grand Slam: The Orchard Acquires Sports Doc ‘No No: A Dockumentary’

No No DockumentaryIf you’re halfway through your corporate league’s baseball season or in the middle of MLB’s season on your couch, you’ll definitely want to catch No No: A Dockumentary, the narrative that shines light on the life of no-hitter base-baller Dock Ellis. And since we’ve acquired worldwide rights to the full-length, you’ll soon be able to see it for yourself!

The Orchard’s Film team scooped up the knock-out after its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. When Fall 2014 rolls around, audiences will be able to score the release either theatrically or digitally by way of The Orchard’s documentary brand Opus Docs.

Director Jeffrey Radice captures a different side to the Dock story. Although he’s most-known for the no-hitter he threw while on LSD, his outspoken (at-times outrageous) attitude, and the foam hair curlers he wore during games, not many people are aware of his drug addiction, eventual turn-around, and the help he provided to others in similar situations.

Radice’s goal behind the film? “To share Dock’s full story with his legions of fans,” which Radice (making his directorial debut) and crew accomplish through detailed interviews from Ellis’s friends, family and teammates.

There’s plenty to read about the famed trip, but now you’ll be able to take your own trip down Dock Ellis’s memory lane to learn more about the MLB Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher.

You can get more details on the official acquisition from The Wrap and Indiewire, and read the complete press release here.

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