Karol Martesko-Fenster is an Austrian-born American entertainment and media innovator and entrepreneur with over two decades of leadership roles in the motion picture, publishing, event, broadcast, and Internet industries.
Karol is Partner/Chief Operating Officer of specialized global theatrical distributor and rights management enterprise Abramorama and Chief Content Officer of Thought Engine Partners. Previously, he was the President of Film for Michael Cohl’s S2BN Entertainment where he was responsible for all of the film and media interests, including development, production, acquisition, licensing and distribution. He joined S2BN in 2010 after serving as EVP/Film & Animation for Babel Networks, the parent of global online and mobile distribution network babelgum.com. Karol joined Babel Networks in 2008 after providing strategic consulting services to numerous arts and media ventures, including Arts Alliance Ventures, T5M, Rightster, SBI Management and Tribeca Enterprises.
Karol is a Producer of Benjamin and Jonathan Bergmann’s Mau and Gelato, Thomas Wirthensohn’s Into The Field and Homme Less (2014 DOC NYC Grand Jury Award Winner), and Maura Axelrod’s Maurizio Cattelan – Be Right Back. He was a special consultant on Kevin Kerslake’s As I Am: The Life and Times of DJ AM, and Executive Producer on Daniel McCabe’s This Is Congo, Leslie Iwerks’ Ella Brennan: Commanding The Table, Amy Benson’s Drawing The Tiger, Phil Cox’s The Love Hotel and The Bengali Detective (2013 Grierson Documentary Award, 2011 Sundance and Berlin Film Festival competition selection), Noel Dernesch & Moritz Springer’s Journey To Jah (2013 Zurich Film Festival Audience Award Winner), Havana Marking's Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers, and Danfung Dennis’ Hell And Back Again (2013 EMMY Best Documentary Award nominee, 2013 Grierson Documentary Award, 2011 Sundance World Documentary Grand Jury and Cinematography Award Winner, and 2012 ACADEMY AWARD Best Documentary nominee).
Karol supervised all aspects of production and the multi-platform release of Emmett Malloy’s Big Easy Express (2013 GRAMMY Award Winner, 2012 SXSW Audience Headliner Award Winner), and collaborated with HEARST and Leslie Iwerks on Citizen Hearst and with Harry Belafonte on the 2012 NAACP Image Award-winning, and 2011 Sundance US Documentary competition film, Sing Your Song. Karol was the Executive Producer on James Smith’s Floored (‘10), Jamie King and Peter Mann’s Dark Fibre (‘10), Co-Executive Producer on Dean Budnick & Peter Shapiro’s Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub (’06), Executive Producer of Rob Nilsson’s Frank Dead Souls (’06), and a Producer of Gordon Eriksen & Heather Johnston’s Scenes From The New World (’94), Myth or Reality – The Von Trapp Family (’92), Vienna 1900 (’86) and he collaborated closely with Richard Linklater on his Sundance Film Festival opening night and Berlinale Silver Bear Award-winning Before Sunrise (’95).
Karol was previously the Head of Film at Chris Blackwell’s Palm Pictures Entertainment Properties and President of Palm’s RES Media Group. During his five-year tenure he supervised the strategic re-organization of the media and film division and oversaw the company’s most successful theatrical releases, Scratch and Sex and Lucia. While at Palm, he led all operations and brand positioning for the RES business unit, expanding RESFEST, the world’s original digital arts and entertainment festival, into a global touring event spanning six continents, 19 countries and over 40 cities worldwide.
Prior to Palm, Karol served for three years as President/Publisher of Rising Tide Studios, where he supervised the growth and development of the Silicon Alley Reporter and Digital Coast Reporter magazines and numerous high-profile conferences on the Media, Finance and Technology Industries.
In the early 1990s, he was the coordinating producer for Great Performances Music on PBS and produced over 20 music television programs and five live satellite broadcasts, including; Gala of Stars, James Levine’s Mozart in Salzburg, Celebrating Gershwin: S’Wonderful & The Jazz Age, Herbert von Karajan’s Don Giovanni, Hal Prince’s Madama Butterfly, Pavarotti Returns to Naples and From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration with Walter Cronkite. Karol was the Market Director for the seminal 1989 Independent Feature Film Market and in 1990, and as Acting Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project Karol restructured the nation's leading film service organization and co-initiated the inaugural Gotham Awards.
Throughout his career, Karol has been at the forefront of paradigm shifting technologies. He is credited with the first global digital release of a feature film via iTunes prior to its traditional release (Grammy Award winning Big Easy Express), the pioneering episodic mobile distribution of a feature film (Sally Potter’s Rage), releasing nine internet only prequels during the production of the feature documentary, The Bengali Detective, and architecting a one day global theatrical screening in 12 languges and 355 venues with a live Facebook interconnect between UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Auschwitz concentration camp in Birkenau, Poland for Roberta Grossman and Nancy Spielberg’s award-winning Who Will Write Our History.
Karol has collaborated on the Webby Award-winning enterprises, We The Economy - 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford To Miss (’15), Focus Forward - Short Films, Big Ideas (’13), Rage (’10), epitonic.com (’03), indiewire.com (’03 & ’01), and sputnik7.com (’01). Karol has appeared in numerous international publications and is a frequent speaker at media events around the globe with a particular concentration on transformative entrepreneurship and immersive video-centric cross platform content applications. He co-founded and launched FILMMAKER Magazine, RES Magazine, The Virtual Film Festival, indiewire.com, cinelan.com, hackateerventures.com, and conditionone.com.
Current and former boards include Columbia University’s Digital Storytelling Lab (DSL) Rightster, Bella Gaia, Learn Do Share, The Film Collaborative, Rising Tide Studios, and the Hamptons International and LA Independent Film Festival.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Karol has lived in over 20 cities internationally, and is culturally fluent in German and English. He received a B.A. from SUNY Purchase and an M.F.A. from Columbia University with a concentration in entertainment law, theater management and film production. When he’s not working, Karol enjoys spending time with his wife, Julia, and their three children.