Doc ‘40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic’ Due on Digital June 9 From Virgil

The documentary film 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic will premiere on digital HD June 9 from Virgil Films & Entertainment.

The film is narrated by “Rocky” star and creator Sylvester Stallone, who shares insights about his battle to get the story of a down-on-his-luck boxer greenlit and onto the big screen.

In 1976, a low budget movie written by an unknown actor was released, inspiring audiences around the world. Rocky became the ultimate underdog film. More than 40 years later, Stallone recounts the making of the beloved classic through rare home movies provided by director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Stallone pitched the idea of the film to director Derek Wayne Johnson and producer Chris May after a private screening of their documentary John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, in which Stallone is also featured. The documentary features behind-the-scenes footage that Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen shot, as well as never-before-seen footage found in “Rocky” production manager and Troma Entertainment president Lloyd Kaufman’s basement nearly 40 years after it was filmed.

Exclusive Interview: Tyler Gildin, Director of Doc ‘The Starfish’

An act of kindness had a ripple effect in Tyler Gildin’s family, and he chronicled it in his first feature documentary The Starfish, available now on digital HD from Virgil Films.

The title refers to a parable about a boy on the beach who throws a starfish into the ocean to help it escape the burning sun as the tide goes out. When a man tells him there are so many starfish that he can’t make a difference, he replies, “I made a difference for that one.”

Gildin’s grandfather Herb retold the parable in 2001 when he reunited with a family in Sweden 60 years after staying with them as a refugee German-Jewish boy. During Nazi persecution in 1938, Herb’s parents sent him and his two older sisters to live with non-Jewish families in Sweden. After living in Sweden for two years, the trio made a frightening and chilling journey to be reunited with their parents as refugees in America.

“Ultimately it’s a feel-good story,” Gildin said. “It’s a story of connection and it’s a story of resilience. My grandfather was given a bad hand at first, but he was so fortunate to be ultimately able to succeed.”

Herb went on to build a successful lighting business in America, not speaking much of his early years or his Swedish family. After hearing of the siblings’ ordeal in Herb’s eulogy for his sister Cele, Tyler decided to tell their story — and to interview his grandfather.

“I was surprised at how forthcoming he was,” said Gildin, who also interviewed his grandfather’s nieces, whose mothers had made that fateful journey with Herb.

“Getting a full story from perspectives of all three children was just really interesting,” he said. “As much as this is my grandfather’s story, it’s also their story as well, so I thought that was important — to let them speak for their parents who are not around to speak for themselves.”

After refuge in Sweden, the journey to America was particularly grueling as, instead of traveling through Europe, the trio crossed Russia and the Pacific.

“Because of the war, I guess they were scared to go across Europe,” said Gildin. “I mean you would think to go the other way to come to the East Coast, it should be significantly easier, but for whatever reason, this was the route that I believe HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] guided them on. This is what they were told was the best, safest way, but took the longest.”

Follow us on Instagram

The director used illustrations to portray the fear of the journey, with silhouettes evoking the inner turmoil of the trio. He also gathered archival footage and family photos, as well as photos from the Swedes who had sheltered his grandfather.

“The Swedish families in their attic kept all these photos,” he said.

The director had not been to the reunion in Sweden in 2001 because he was at a summer camp where, strangely enough, campers often heard the story of “The Starfish.” Luckily, two relatives had recorded Herb’s speech on VHS, used in the documentary.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“When I saw him tell that speech I got goosebumps,” Gildin said. “Who knows? I could have been told that story at the exact same moment, halfway across the world. When I saw that footage, I immediately knew I wanted to title the film The Starfish, and I wanted to bookend it with that speech.”

Music Drama ‘Broken Poet’ Coming to Digital HD May 15 From Virgil

The music drama Broken Poet will come out on digital HD May 15 from Virgil Films and Entertainment exclusively through music site Backstreets.com.

The site boasts a large fan base for Bruce Springsteen, who has a cameo in the film.

“On Broken Poet we are experimenting with going direct to the actual fan base, releasing before the national release,” said Virgil president and CEO Joe Amodei. “Backstreets.com is the go-to for every Springsteen fan, so we were lucky to get to work with them on the release and offer the exclusive.”

The film will have a wider digital release in the summer.

Broken Poet is the story of the 1970s rock star Jake Lion, who is presumed dead in Paris until a former roadie happens to be riding in the Paris Metro 40 years after his much-publicized suicide and hears an aged street musician who sounds just like him. Rolling Stone sends a rock journalist to investigate, and she uncovered something unexpected.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Directed by Emilio J. Ruiz, the film stars Elliot Murphy, Joanna Preiss and Marisa Berenson.

Broken Poet – Backstreets Exclusive from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

Doc ‘Code Blue’ Coming to Digital HD May 26, DVD June 9 From Virgil

The documentary Code Blue, about improving the medical system, will come out on digital HD May 26 and DVD June 9 from Virgil Films.

Through the lens of filmmaker Marcia Machado, Code Blue reveals lapses in the current state of medicine and provides a common-sense solution by featuring the practice of lifestyle medicine to prevent, manage and reverse chronic diseases. Seven of the top 10 causes of death in America are chronic diseases, two of which, heart disease and cancer, account for nearly 50% of all deaths. U.S. health care costs are approaching $3 trillion per year with 86% of these dollars utilized to manage chronic illness. Peer reviewed medical studies illustrate amending lifestyle behaviors, including diet, physical activity, cigarette smoking and body weight, can prevent nearly 80% of chronic diseases.

The film presents the hurdles faced to the proposed shift: antiquated curricula in medical schools, confusion in the media, inadequate government policies, and the underlying influences of the pharmaceutical and food industries.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Code Blue follows a passionate physician, Dr. Saray Stancic, as she reflects upon her journey from a multiple sclerosis diagnosis to wellness through her own adoption of lifestyle medicine. Dr. Stancic introduces viewers to expert physicians and scientists who are paving the way to make change in our healthcare environment.

SS_CodeBlue TRAILER NEW 111419 from Saray Stancic on Vimeo.

 

Doc ‘The Starfish’ Coming to Digital HD May 5 From Virgil

The documentary The Starfish will come out on digital HD May 5 from Virgil Films.

The Starfish is the true story of a German-Jewish boy whose life was forever altered at the age of 10, when his parents sent him and his two older sisters to live with non-Jewish families in Sweden to escape Nazi persecution. After living in Sweden for two years, Herb Gildin and his sisters journeyed across Russia and the Pacific to be reunited with their parents as refugees in America.

Focused on building his lighting business rather than dwelling on the past, decades went by before Herb told his wife and children about his childhood, resulting in one last journey back to Sweden to attempt to reunite with the remaining family members who had taken him in 60 years earlier.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Starfish from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

Musical Stage Show ‘Jesus’ Due on Digital HD and DVD May 15 From Virgil

Sight & Sound Theatres’ Jesus, filmed in front of a live audience, will come out on digital HD and DVD May 15 from Virgil Films and Entertainment.

The musical stage show takes audiences on a journey alongside the most famous person ever to walk the earth and the everyday people whose lives he changed forever. Peter, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene and a multitude of others journey alongside Jesus from the bustling streets of Jerusalem to the raging Sea of Galilee.

The production portrays miraculous events as Jesus sets sail with fishermen and makes disciples out of the least expected.

Follow us on Instagram

The story comes to life onstage with massive sets, special effects and live animals in this original stage production from Sight & Sound.

Jesus from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

Season One of ‘Creepshow’ Coming to Digital and Disc From RLJE

RLJE Films has picked up select rights to season one of “Creepshow” from parent AMC Networks’ Shudder streaming service and will release it June 2 digitally, and on DVD and Blu-ray.

The six-episode season of the horror-comedy from showrunner Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”) stars Tobin Bell (Saw franchise), Adrienne Barbeau (Escape From New York), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”), Cailey Fleming (“The Walking Dead”), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator), Scott ‘Kid Cudi’ Mescudi (Bill & Ted Face the Music), DJ Qualls (“The Man in the High Castle”), Bruce Davison (X-Men), David Arquette (Scream franchise), Dana Gould (“Stan Against Evil”) and Tricia Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The new anthology series is based on George A. Romero’s 1982 horror comedy film. A comic book comes to life in a series of 12 vignettes over six episodes, exploring terrors from murder to the supernatural and unexplainable, including haunted dollhouses, werewolves, murderous goblins, villainous trick-or-treaters, the dead and medical marvels.

Follow us on Instagram

The six episodes were directed by Greg Nicotero (“The Walking Dead”), Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), John Harrison (Book of Blood), Rob Schrab (“Community”), David Bruckner (The Ritual) and Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock).

Bonus materials include more than three hours of interviews, featurettes and behind-the-scenes footage, audio commentary tracks with the cast and crew for each of the episodes, and a 24-page comic art booklet.

Update (5/12/20): The original street date of May 19 was changed to June 2 by RLJ.

Movies Anywhere Screen Pass Sharing Feature Launched to More Users in Open Beta

Digital movie library Movies Anywhere has launched its new Screen Pass feature to more users. The feature allows users to share up to three movies monthly with friends and family for free.

The open beta expands on the beta launch March 17.

“We wanted to start open beta with users we thought were most likely to share,” said Karin Gilford, GM of Movies Anywhere, who added that the stay-at-home orders in the majority of the country make it a good time to help users share their favorite movies with family and friends.

Those who want to participate in the open beta can sign up here.

Screen Pass gives a friend or family member (who must be a Movies Anywhere member) seven days to accept the invitation, and another 14 days to watch the title. Once started, the user has 72 hours to finish watching the movie. A title can be shared unlimited times.

All Movies Anywhere studios are participating in the program, with each studio deciding on Screen Pass eligible titles. Eligible films appear in a scroll on the Movies Anywhere app. Users can send a text or email to share an eligible title. The service notifies recipients if the title is already in their library and they can decline the offer. Movies Anywhere also indicates to sharers how many of the three allowed movies per month they have shared.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We have such a great enthusiastic audience, and they look to share their love of movies,” Gilford said. “Now you can really pay it off with just a few clicks. The more friction you can reduce from that recommendation of a movie to a friend the better.”

Movies Anywhere brings together more than 7,900 movies from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Twentieth Century Film, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers that connect with the service include iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu/Walmart, Comcast Xfinity, Google Play/YouTube, Microsoft Movies & TV, FandangoNow and Verizon Fios TV.

Paramount and Lionsgate films are not part of the service.

While Movies Anywhere is “always in talks” with potential additional studio and partners, Gilford said, “We are accelerating our connected TV strategy.” Last month, Movies Anywhere launched on LG smart TVs.

Follow us on Instagram

Doc ‘One Child Left Behind: The Untold Atlanta Cheating Scandal’ Coming to Digital HD April 7 From Virgil

The documentary One Child Left Behind: The Untold Atlanta Cheating Scandal will come out on Digital HD April 7 from Virgil Films.

In 2009, 1,176 Atlanta teachers were investigated for test cheating; 35 were indicted, 12 went to trial and 11 were found guilty on RICO charges, which are typically reserved for the mafia and drug lords. The guilty, serving 30-year sentences, finally break their silence in this tell-all, controversial film that takes a closer look at the legislation called No Child Left Behind, the politics behind it, and a race and power struggle that spawned one of the most complex scandals in American history.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Directed by celebrated Producer and Showrunner Jodi Gomes, the documentary brings the accused, whistleblowers, cheaters and innocent together on film for the first time to tell the real story. The U.S. Education debate takes a front seat in this harrowing, investigative film that will leave many wondering how our education system could fail so many. Was the controversial legislation, ‘No Child Left Behind’ to blame for such widespread cheating in Atlanta public schools, or did politics, race and greed for $50 million in federal funding fuel the fire? Discover the real story with exclusive interviews from the convicted, whistleblowers, accused, cheaters, prosecution, D.A., defense attorneys and most importantly, the students left behind.

Follow us on Instagram

One Child Left Behind: The Untold Atlanta Cheating Scandal from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

MMA Doc ‘El Viejo’ Coming on Digital Feb. 25 From Virgil

The documentary El Viejo will be released on digital HD Feb. 25 from Virgil Films and Entertainment.

The film follows a 51-year-old retired wrestling coach, Thom Ortiz, who doesn’t let age derail his dreams of becoming a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Against all odds, he uses unconventional means to juggle the challenges of health, fatherhood, career and training to compete in a sport that’s dominated by younger athletes.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Directed by Matthew Hickney and written by Shane Ellison, the documentary won Best Documentary Feature at the Festigious International Film Festival Los Angeles, Best Arizona Feature at the Arcosanti International Film Carnivale, the Gold Medal for Best Featurette at the Global Independent Film Awards, and was a winner at the Los Angeles Film Awards.

El Viejo from El Viejo on Vimeo.