Doc ‘Robolove,’ Animated ‘BoBoiBoy: Elemental Heroes’ Among Titles Available on DVD From MVD and Synergetic in April

The documentaries Robolove and COVID-19: Inside Job as well as the animated BoBoiBoy: Elemental Heroes and the drama Sibel will be released in April on DVD only from Synergetic Distribution and MVD Entertainment Group.

Robolove is a documentary that reflects on the strategies of men and women involved with the creation of artificial intelligence and robots that will perhaps one day expand human life, featuring such subjects as Japanese robotics guru Hiroshi Ishiguro and transhumanist Natasha Vita More. While the difference between humans and androids is diminishing, the tension between technology and social responsibility is growing as much as utopian visions expand.

The film was a 2019 official selection/nominee at the Austria Film Festival; a 2020 official selection at the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival; a 2020 official selection at the Docs Against Gravity Film Festival; and a 2020 official selection at the Amplify Film Festival.

TRAILER – Robolove from SYNERGETIC on Vimeo.

The documentary COVID-19: Inside Job explores the work done on developing a vaccine for COVID-19. The Jenner institute was given a billion dollars by the United States to produce “hundreds of millions” of doses of a vaccine not tested on humans. This is a GMO vaccine, requiring typically many years to produce, and yet this lab supposedly developed it in 19 days. Through investigative research, John Hankey unfolds the origin of a possible COVID-19 vaccine through research into scientific papers, interviews and testing.

In the drama Sibel, 25-year-old Sibel (Damla Sönmez) lives with her father and sister in a secluded village in the mountains of Turkey’s Black Sea region. Sibel is a mute, but she communicates by using the ancestral whistled language of the area. Rejected by her fellow villagers, she relentlessly hunts down a wolf that is said to be prowling in the neighboring forest, sparking fears and fantasies among the village women. There she crosses path with a fugitive. Injured, threatening and vulnerable, he is the first one to take a fresh look at her.

The film was an official selection at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema) and Sönmez won Best Actress at the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival and the 2019 Sadri Alisik Theatre and Cinema Awards.

In BoBoiBoy: Elemental Heroes, a followup to BoBoiBoy: The Movie, BoBoiBoy and his friends have been attacked by a villain named Retak’ka who is the original user of BoBoiBoy’s elemental powers. He seeks to take back his elemental powers from BoBoiBoy to become the most powerful person and dominate the galaxy. Together with his friends, BoBoiBoy must find a way to defeat Retak’ka before his powers fall into the wrong hands.

The feature, which had limited theatrical screenings in December 2020, won Best Animated Program or Series at the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards. The “BoBoiBoy” series is broadcast in more than 70 countries.

Apple Greenlights Louis Armstrong Doc

Apple Original Films has greenlighted the Louis Armstrong documentary feature Black & Blues: The Colorful Ballad of Louis Armstrong from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries to join its feature film slate.

The film offers a definitive look at the master musician’s life and legacy as a founding father of jazz, the first pop star and a cultural ambassador of the United States. He was loved by millions worldwide but often mischaracterized for not doing enough to support the civil rights movement. In reality, his fight for social justice was fueled by his celebrity and his willingness to break his silence on issues of segregation and patriotism. With the support of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the filmmakers have access to never-before-seen archival materials, including hundreds of hours of audio recordings, film footage, photographs, personal diaries and a life’s worth of ephemera for exclusive use in the first significant documentary dedicated entirely to Armstrong’s life.

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The documentary, which is produced under Apple’s first-look agreement with Imagine Documentaries, will be directed by Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men), and will be produced by Jenkins, Julie Anderson, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard serve as executive producers. The project is being produced in association with Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, with Michele Anthony and David Blackman serving as executive producers.

Amazon’s Oscar-Nominated Doc ‘Time’ Streaming Free for a Week

The Oscar-nominated Amazon Original documentary Time is streaming for free to audiences globally without needing a Prime subscription.

Starting April 12, the film will be available in front of the Prime Video paywall as well as streaming on YouTube for one week.

Time, from filmmaker Garrett Bradley, will also return to theaters starting April 16 in New York at the Village East, Los Angeles at The Landmark and San Francisco at the Embarcadero.

If Time wins, it would mark the first time ever a Black female director would win an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

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The documentary follows entrepreneur, abolitionist and mother of six boys Fox Rich, who has spent the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is serving a 60-year sentence for a robbery they both committed in the early ’90s in a moment of desperation. Combining the video diaries Fox has recorded for Rob over the years with intimate glimpses of her present-day life, Bradley paints a portrait of the resilience and radical love necessary to prevail over the endless separations of the country’s prison-industrial complex.

Time cross-cuts footage from the past and present, framing it with a voiceover from Fox and her sons to provide a uniquely intimate perspective into the long-term costs of incarceration: the children who grow up without fathers, and the mothers who are forced to become caregivers and legal experts all at once.

‘Hemingway’ Coming to PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel April 5

Hemingway, a documentary from filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick chronicling the life of literary icon Ernest Hemingway, will be available to stream on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel on April 5.

The channel will also be streaming a 4K Ultra High-Definition version of the program beginning April 11. The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

The title will come out on Blu-ray and DVD April 13.

The three-part, six-hour film examines the life and work of Hemingway, one of the most influential writers America has ever produced. Narrated by long-time collaborator Peter Coyote, the series features an all-star cast of actors bringing Hemingway (voiced by Jeff Daniels), his friends and family to life. Through letters to and from his four wives — voiced by Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary-Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson — the film reveals Hemingway at his most romantic and his most vulnerable, grappling at times with insecurity, anxiety and existential loneliness.

Burns and Novick paint a picture of Hemingway, who captured on paper the complexities of the human condition in profound prose, and whose work remains deeply influential around the world. Informed by interviews with celebrated writers, scholars and Hemingway’s son Patrick, the filmmakers explore the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most notable works of fiction, in novels such as The Sun Also RisesA Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea; short stories “Hills Like White Elephants,” “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “Up in Michigan,” “Indian Camp” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro;” as well as the nonfiction works Death in the Afternoon and A Moveable Feast.

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His relationships with women — his mother, sisters, wives and the World War I nurse who broke his heart — profoundly affected his work. Yet for all his bravado and hyper-masculine posturing, Hemingway wrote about relationships between men and women with sensitivity, nuance and clarity.

The filmmakers were granted unusually open access to the treasure trove of Hemingway’s manuscripts, correspondence, scrapbooks and photographs housed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The film also explores Hemingway’s limitations and biases as an artist and a man of his time.

Doc ‘Her Name Is Chef’ Due on Digital April 27, DVD May 11 From Virgil

The documentary Her Name Is Chef is coming to digital HD April 27 and DVD May 11 from Virgil Films.

The feature documentary explores the changing of gender roles in restaurant kitchens built around the tragic story of “Top Chef” fan favorite Fatima Ali.

Her Name is Chef showcases the stories of six talented, inspiring, females of the kitchen. Each shares their triumphs in cutting through the clichés of the restaurant industry and explores how they broke down the doors to earn the title of chef.

Host Leia Gaccione sits down with Elizabeth Falkner, Fatima Ali, Hillary Sterling, Esther Choi, Juliet Masters and Caroline Schiff.

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Doc ‘Buster Williams Bass to Infinity’ Due on Digital March 16 From Virgil

The documentary Buster Williams Bass to Infinity will come out on digital March 16 from Virgil Films.

Jazz musician Buster Williams has played with everyone, from Sarah Vaughan to Miles Davis, Nancy Wilson, Art Blakey, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and others. In this documentary, viewers join Williams as he tells stories about his life and the lives of other great jazz musicians, and is joined by, and plays with, some of the greatest living contributors to this music — Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Rufus Reid, Christian McBride, Larry Willis, Carmen Lundy, Kenny Barron and Lenny White.

Buster Williams Bass to Infinity is a film about a great contributor to America’s greatest art form, and many other greats — those mentioned above, as well as Monk, Trane and Paul Chambers.

The trailer is here.

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Doc ‘Ruth — Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words’ Due on DVD and Digital March 9 From Virgil

The documentary Ruth — Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words will come out on DVD and digital March 9 from Virgil Films.

The 2019 film tells the improbable story of how Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who couldn’t get a job despite graduating first in her law school class in a tie and making Law Review at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, became an associate justice of the Supreme Court. It also reveals both the public and private sides of a resilient, resourceful woman who survived the hostility of the profoundly male universe of government and law to become a revered justice and icon for gender equality and women’s rights.

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The documentary dramatizes a confluence of factors — personal, psychological, social and political — that impacted the course of her work and life. The film is designed as an immersive experience through the direct words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a professor, advocate, judge and justice from the 1970s onwards through the use of animation and illustrations to visualize complex constitutional cases, by the insights of colleagues who have directly worked with or have been impacted by her 40 years as a legal icon, and with an original score by a Grammy winning composer.

Ruth – Justice Ginsburg In Her Own Words (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

Polaroid Doc ‘Instant Dreams,’ Comedy ‘Birds Without Feathers’ Available on DVD From MVD

Two Synergetic Distribution titles, the Polaroid documentary Instant Dreams and the comedy Birds Without Feathers, are available on DVD in February from MVD Entertainment Group.

In Birds Without Feathers, desperate for human interaction, six emotionally damaged individuals get attention and validation out of one another in toxic and possibly ineffective ways. Among them are a wannabe Instagram celebrity who compulsively asks people to take her picture, a literal identity thief with an endless cache of costumes to match her personas and a depressed motivational speaker on his way to give the performance of a lifetime. Over the course of a weekend, people are punched, posters of celebrities are violated, birthdays are ruined and everyone’s sense of worth is challenged. The film, which stars Wendy McColm (“Community”), Alexander Stasko (Child 44) and William Gabriel Grier (Twelve), won the Certificate of Outstanding Achievement Style at the 2018 Brooklyn Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize Best Narrative Feature at the 2018 Oak Cliff Film Festival. It was an Official Selection at the Whistler Film Festival, the 2018 Denver International Film Festival and the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival.

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Instant Dreams brings viewers into the lives of Polaroid enthusiasts to create a portrait of Dr. Edwin Land, a pioneer in American technology. When Polaroid announced the end of instant film in 2008, a small group of enthusiasts bought the last operational factory in the Netherlands. Although they have the factory, a house fire destroyed all of Dr. Land’s private notes, including the chemical formula behind instant film. As a result, engineer Stephen Herchen is brought in to recreate the magic behind Polaroid. Despite all of their progress, their version of the instant film is still too slow to share with the world. Meanwhile, artist Stephanie Schneider stores her last remaining Polaroid stock in a refrigerator, using them for her work in the California desert. Her primary medium is instant film, and most of her stock expired years ago. In New York, Christopher Bonanos is also running out of the Polaroid stock he needs to document the growth of his son. As the author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid, Christopher offers the audience a history of Dr. Land, the scientist and innovator at the heart of Polaroid’s success. Director Willem Baptist interweaves the film with archival footage showing a man at the cutting edge of technology and the downfall of Polaroid at the turn of the digital revolution. The film was an official selection at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival, the 2018 San Francisco Docfest, the 2018 Sofia International Film Festival, the 2018 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, the 2019 Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival and the 2018 Doc NYC Festival.

Doc ‘7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story’ Coming to DVD and Digital Feb. 23 From Virgil

The documentary 7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story will come out on DVD and digital Feb. 23 from Virgil Films.

7 Yards is a feature-length film that explores the resilience and perspective of Chris Norton. In October 2010 at age 18, Chris suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury during a college football game. Doctors gave him just a 3% chance to ever move again, but he defied that diagnosis.

After years of physical therapy and training, Norton’s story went viral in 2015 when he successfully walked across the college graduation stage with the help of his fiancée, Emily. Video of Norton walking to get his diploma touched the world, and it received more than 300 million views. Soon after, Chris and Emily set an ambitious new goal: walk seven yards side-by-side down the wedding aisle.

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The film features interviews, reenactments and real footage from the couple’s 2018 wedding. It’s the inspirational comeback story of Chris and his journey from college athlete to medical miracle to viral inspiration and now adoptive father.

‘The El Duce Tapes,’ ‘Shogun’s Joy of Torture’ Due on Blu-ray in February From MVD and Arrow

The El Duce Tapes and Shogun’s Joy of Torture are coming to Blu-ray Disc in February from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Films.

The El Duce Tapes comes out Feb. 9. In the early 1990s aspiring filmmaker and part-time actor Ryan Sexton grabbed a camcorder and followed shock rockers The Mentors into the sleaziest and grimy clubs in the Hollywood area. The band, known for wearing black executioner masks over their heads, caused controversy wherever they went with their vulgar lyrics and decidedly non-PC approach. Sexton kept the cameras rolling at all times while putting a special focus on the band’s infamous singer-drummer, El Duce. Now 30 years later, filmmakers Rodney Ascher and David Lawrence have taken the footage and edited it together as The El Duce Tapes, a documentary that John Carpenter has praised as “dark and irresistible.” The Blu-ray Disc comes with special features including unused VHS footage, brand-new audio commentary, and an interview with Steve Broy, aka Dr. Heathen Scum of The Mentor.

On Feb. 23 comes Teruo Ishii’s euro-guro Japanese drama Shogun’s Joy of Torture. This 1968 anthology includes three different tales of crime and punishment, all based on true-life cases. This precursor to Toei’s “pinky violent” films of the 1970s isn’t for the easily squeamish. The opening credits feature a decapitation and a burning at the stake. The film is presented in high-definition and includes a new audio commentary, an interview on the work of Ishii, and a feature that explores the history of Japanese exploitation.