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The Orchard Acquires North American Rights To “Life, Animated” From A&E IndieFilms

Feb 03, 2016

Winner of Sundance Film Festival 2016 Directing Award — US Documentary

LOS ANGELES, CA – February 3, 2016The Orchard announced today that the company has reached an agreement with A&E IndieFilms to acquire all North American distribution rights to director Roger Ross Williams’ documentary LIFE, ANIMATED. The film just won the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award in US Documentary competition. LIFE, ANIMATED was produced by Julie Goldman and Williams, and executive producers are Molly Thompson, Robert DeBitetto, Robert Sharenow and Ron Suskind. This marks the second deal between The Orchard and A&E IndieFilms, after the Academy Award-nominated Cartel Land.

LIFE, ANIMATED is a coming of age story about Owen Suskind, who ceased speaking at three years old, disappearing into autism. The film tells the story of how Owen found in Disney animation a pathway to language and a framework for making sense of the world. LIFE, ANIMATED interweaves classic Disney sequences with verité scenes from Owen’s life, along with original animations based on Owen’s own drawings, where he imagines himself heroically facing adversity with his tribe of sidekicks.

The documentary is based on the best-selling book, “Life Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism,” by Owen’s father, Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind.

“LIFE, ANIMATED is about the power of movies, which is why we could have no better partner to bring our film to the world than The Orchard, who are so passionate about this film,” said Roger Ross Williams.

“We are so excited for audiences to meet and connect with Owen Suskind and the Suskind family,” said Julie Goldman. “The remarkable screenings at Sundance were just the start; we anticipate an extraordinary journey ahead with the Suskinds, A&E IndieFilms and The Orchard, who are committed to bringing this film to the widest possible audience.”

“LIFE, ANIMATED is a deeply inspiring and emotional film that hooked us from the outset,” said Paul Davidson, SVP of Film and TV at The Orchard. “Not only are we thrilled to be working with Roger and Julie to share Owen’s story with audiences, but ecstatic to be partnering once again with our friends at A&E Indie Films.”

“We had a great experience with The Orchard on Cartel Land, and are delighted to get the band back together for LIFE, ANIMATED,” said Molly Thompson, Senior Vice President, A&E IndieFilms.

Danielle DiGiacomo, VP of Acquisitions for The Orchard, negotiated the deal with Josh Braun of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.


The Orchard is a pioneering independent film, TV and music distribution company that operates in over 25 global markets. The company, founded as a music distributor in 1997, is a groundbreaking leader in the film and television distribution space, known for its innovative technology that provides filmmakers with up-to-the minute trending data and analytics on their projects. The Orchard’s film division has enjoyed such recent successes as the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Cartel Land,” “The Overnight,” “Dior & I” and “What We Do in the Shadows.” Upcoming releases include Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville’s “The Music of Strangers” and Joachim Trier’s “Louder Than Bombs.”


A&E IndieFilms is the feature documentary production arm of A+E Studios. A&E IndieFilms is committed to developing the work of outstanding independent filmmakers and helping them reach the broadest possible audience. Films include the 2006 and 2007 Academy Award nominees for Best Documentary Feature, Murderball and Jesus Camp; Nanette Burstein’s American Teen, which received the Directing Award at Sundance Film Festival; Amir Bar-Lev’s My Kid Could Paint That; R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue; Amir Bar-Lev’s 2012 Emmy Award-winning The Tillman Story; Alex Gibney’s 2011 PGA Award and DGA Award nominee Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer; Bart Layton’s BAFTA Award-winning The Imposter; Mike Myers’ directorial debut, SuperMensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon; winner of the Directing Award in the US Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, Life, Animated by Roger Ross Williams; Author: The JT LeRoy Story from Jeff Feuerzig; and the 2016 Academy Award nominated film for Best Documentary Feature, Cartel Land from Matthew Heineman.