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New Canaan Country School Graduate Earns Oscar Nomination For Documentary

New Canaan Country School alumnus Matthew Heineman, ‘98, has been nominated for an Oscar.
New Canaan Country School alumnus Matthew Heineman, ‘98, has been nominated for an Oscar. Photo Credit: Contributed

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- New Canaan Country School graduate Matthew Heineman is savoring his nomination for an Oscar for Best Documentary for his latest film "Cartel Land."

“Making 'Cartel Land' was an intense, wild adventure and pushed me mentally, physically, and as a filmmaker," said Heineman, a member of the Class of 1998. "I ended up with a story that I never could have predicted or imagined when I first starting shooting.”

The film is a riveting, on-the-ground look at the journeys of two modern-day vigilante groups and their shared enemy – the murderous Mexican drug cartels.

The film made its premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where he won the Best Director Award and Special Jury Prize for Cinematography.

The film was released theatrically nationwide by The Orchard in July 2015 and made its broadcast premiere on A&E in January 2016. It was recently nominated for a Gotham Award, Critics’ Choice Award and BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.

Heineman received the Courage Under Fire Award from the International Documentary Association “in recognition of conspicuous bravery in the pursuit of truth,” and was also named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015.

Heineman, who grew up in Fairfield County, received Country School’s 2012 Alumni Award after the release of his first feature length documentary "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare." The film played in theaters nationwide, premiered on CNN, and was nominated for an Emmy in 2013.

He previously collaborated for two years with a team at HBO on the Emmy-nominated HBO series, "The Alzheimer's Project," which aired in May 2009. He also directed and produced "Our Time" – a documentary about what it's like to be young in today's America.

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