The Orchard has added Cartel Land to its list of 2015 Sundance acquisitions – in addition to Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire and Patrick Brice’s The Overnight. Directed by Matthew Heineman (Escape Fire), Cartel Land won two trophies in the U.S. Documentary category at Sundance: the directing award and the special jury award for cinematography. The film is produced by the feature documentary production arm of A&E Networks, A&E IndieFilms, which was behind the Oscar nominees Jesus Camp (2006) and Murderball (2005).
Cartel Land follows two vigilante movements (one Mexican, one American), both fighting against Mexican drug cartels. In Mexico, a small-town physician known as “El Doctor” leads a revolt against the Knights Templar cartel, which is terrorizing the state of Michoacán. Across the border, in an area of Arizona known as Cocaine Alley, Tim “Nailer” Foley amasses his own paramilitary group to prevent the Mexican cartels from crossing over. Heineman inserts himself into the center of the struggle to tell a story about “the conflict between idealism and violence,” as he noted in The Hollywood Reporter. The Orchard will release the film later this year.