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.

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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.

‘The Last Dance’ Draws 23.8 Million International Household Viewers for Netflix

The Last Dance, the documentary series about basketball star Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls championship team, attracted 23.8 million households outside the United States on Netflix, the service announced May 20.

The miniseries, a co-production of Netflix and ESPN Films, aired on ESPN in the United States April 19 through May 17 with each episode being made available the day after airing to international audiences via the SVOD service.

“23 was always his lucky number! 23.8 million households outside the U.S. checked out The Last Dance in its first four weeks on Netflix,” the service tweeted.

Jordan’s jersey number was 23.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.”

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.

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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.

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The Starfish from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

‘World on Fire,’ ‘Ken Burns Presents: East Lake Meadows’ Among Titles Available on Disc and Digital From PBS

PBS Distribution has released eight new programs on disc and digital, including Helen Hunt and Sean Bean in World on Fire, a new addition to the “Frontline” series, as well as a Ken Burns presentation and two new “Nature” programs.

Masterpiece: World on Fire is available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital. The miniseries traverses the first year of WWII, from ordinary life in England to the beaches of Dunkirk, diving deep into the hearts and minds of those living their lives during this extraordinary time. In the summer of 1939, Harry, a translator at the British Embassy in Warsaw, is falling in love with Polish waitress Kasia. When German tanks roll into Poland and Britain declares war on Germany, Harry and Kasia face terrible choices. With her life in grave danger, can Harry help her — and if he can, how will he ever explain himself to Lois Bennett, the girl he left behind in Manchester? As the Nazi threat spreads across Europe, Kasia must choose between love and fighting for her country, Harry must find his place in the world, and Lois must seize new opportunities the war presents. The conflict overturns everything for Harry’s snobbish mother Robina; for Douglas, Lois’ pacifist father; and for her younger brother Tom, who joins the Navy and finds himself under fire in one of the first major battles of the war. In Berlin, outspoken American journalist Nancy risks her life trying to help her neighbors; while in Paris, Nancy’s nephew, medic Webster refuses to leave the city and the man he loves.

Ken Burns Presents: East Lake Meadows is available on DVD and digital. In 1970, the Atlanta Housing Authority opened East Lake Meadows, a public housing community on the edge of the city. Over the next 25 years, many thousands of low-income Atlantans, mostly African American, would call it home. Shoddy construction and a lack of funding left the project and surrounding landscape in disrepair and led to a rapid decline in the quality of life. As public housing in America became increasingly stigmatized, and a crack epidemic overwhelmed East Lake Meadows, the neighborhood became nearly uninhabitable, but residents nonetheless found ways to overcome violence and neglect, raise kids, find work, and create moments of joy. In the mid-1990s, Atlanta bulldozed East Lake Meadows to make way for new mixed-income housing, as government and philanthropic funds poured into the area in an effort to create a thriving community. Through the stories of the former residents, the documentary gives voice to some of the most marginalized people in our society and raises critical questions about how we have created concentrated poverty and limited housing opportunity for African Americans, and what responsibility we have as a people to ensure decent housing for our most vulnerable citizens.

Earth’s Sacred Wonders is available on DVD and digital. ­The earth’s architectural landscape, throughout history, has largely been sculpted and inspired by faith. Today, more worshippers than ever are flocking to these sacred structures and global landmarks. For some, these places are settings to quietly contemplate, but for others they are sites to find extraordinary acts of worship, dangerous challenges, and remarkable deeds of devotion, rarely seen by outsiders. Earth’s Sacred Wonders takes viewers on a journey, set against stunning backdrops, to discover the lengths that people will go for their faith. Filmed across five continents in 12 different languages, this program showcases how some of the most profound sites of worship are places of powerful spiritual significance and human drama.

Niall Ferguson’s Networld is available on DVD and digital. In this groundbreaking new series hosted by Niall Ferguson and based on his bestselling book The Square and the Tower, Ferguson visits network theorists, social scientists and data analysts to explore the history of social networks. From the Reformation and 17th century witch-hunting, through the American Revolution and to the nightmare visions of Orwell’s 1984, Ferguson explores the intersection of social media, technology and the spread of cultural movements. Reviewing classic experiments and cutting-edge research, Ferguson demonstrates how human behavior, disruptive technology and profit can energize ideas and communication, ultimately changing the world.

Blood Sugar Rising is available on DVD and digital. Diabetes is hidden epidemic that affects over 100 million people in the United States, costing close to $350 billion each year. It’s now predicted that one in three children born in this century will likely develop the disease. Blood Sugar Rising puts human faces to these statistics, presenting intimate stories of Americans living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and personal voices from the battle against the disease.

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Nature: Wild Florida is available on DVD and digital. Florida is well-known for its beaches, blue water and year-round sun, but it also has a surprising wild side. It is home to pine forests, coral reefs and the Everglades wetland, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Here, manatees swim in crystal-clear rivers, baby alligators practice their hunting skills and miniature deer roam free. But every year, this state faces the full forces of nature: from wildfires to flooding to powerful hurricanes. Now, a growing human population, climate change and abandoned exotic pets, like the Burmese pythons that can eat alligators, are also threatening this wild paradise.

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Nature: The Mighty Weasel is available on DVD and digital. Discover the truth about the infamous weasel family, often portrayed as villains and associated with unsavory behavior. We “badger” people, “ferret” out the enemy and “weasel” out of things. Do these critters deserve their bad reputation? To find out, follow the adventures of first-time weasel mom Bandita raising her kits in a unique garden, and meet tiny but mighty orphan weasel Twiz on her journey back to the wild. New, ground-breaking science uncovers the problem-solving abilities of the honey badger, the secrets behind the ferret’s legendary flexibility and the wolverine’s remarkable sense of smell.

Frontline: Amazon Empire — The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos is available on DVD and digital. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos built a business empire that is unprecedented in the history of American capitalism — delivering endless products, entertainment services and technology innovations to customers with just a click of a button. But what is the cost of Amazon’s convenience? “Frontline” examines Amazon and Jeff Bezos’ ascent to power — and his ability to shape everything from the future of work, to the future of commerce, to the future of technology. From award-winning filmmakers James Jacoby and Anya Bourg (The Facebook Dilemma), the documentary draws on interviews with current top executives and former insiders, as well as regulators and critics, raising tough questions about Bezos and the empire he built. Through these interviews, Jacoby and Bourg’s investigation presents an inside look at who Bezos is, and how he transformed a tiny company run out of a garage into a staple of American consumerism that critics contend is willing to dominate the market at all costs.

Netflix Offers Free Documentary Streaming to Teachers on Its YouTube Channel

Netflix has expanded it free documentary screening program for teachers, offing a selection of titles on the Netflix U.S. YouTube channel.

“For many years, Netflix has allowed teachers to screen documentaries in their classrooms. However, this isn’t possible with schools closed,” read the Netflix blog post. “So at their request, we have made a selection of our documentary features and series available on the Netflix U.S. YouTube Channel.

“Each title also has educational resources available, which can be used by both students and teachers — and we’ll be doing Q&As with some of the creators behind these projects so that students can hear from them firsthand.

“We hope this will, in a small way, help teachers around the world.”

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The documentaries are currently available in English, but subtitles in more than a dozen languages will be available later this week, according to the post. “Please check the ratings so that you can make informed choices for your students and children,” the post requested.

Offered on the channel is the film 13th, Ava DuVernay’s documentary with a title that refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay, featuring a mixture of archival footage and testimony from a activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men. Educational resources are here.

Also available is season one of the series “Abstract.” “Abstract: The Art of Design” takes you beyond blueprints into the art, science, and philosophy of design. The series goes inside the minds of the world’s greatest designers, showcasing the most inspiring visionaries from a variety of disciplines whose work shapes our culture and future. Educational resources are here

Select episodes of the series “Babies” are available. Filmed over the course of three years, “Babies” explores the miracle of the first full year of life through the pioneering work of leading scientists from across the globe. The series examines the epic journey every person embarks on, from helpless newborn to independent toddler. The series follows the life-changing adventures of 15 international families and featuring the latest research from eminent scientists who share their personal journeys of discovery into the infant mind. Educational resources are here.

The film Chasing Coral  taps into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers, and renowned marine biologists as they invent the first time-lapse camera to record bleaching events as they happen. Educational materials are here.

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Available are select episodes of the series “Explained.” In partnership with Vox Media Studios and Vox, this explainer series takes viewers deep inside a wide range of culturally relevant topics, questions and ideas. Each episode explores current events and social trends pulled from the zeitgeist, touching topics across politics, science, history and pop culture — featuring interviews with some of the most authoritative experts in their respective fields. Educational resources are coming soon.

The film Knock Down the House follows four women who mount grassroots campaigns against powerful incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections that tipped the balance of power. When tragedy struck her family in the middle of the financial crisis, Bronx-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to work double shifts as a bartender to save her home from foreclosure. After losing a loved one to a preventable medical condition, Amy Vilela didn’t know what to do with the anger she felt about America’s broken health care system. Cori Bush, a registered nurse and pastor, was drawn to the streets when the police shooting of an unarmed black man brought protests and tanks into her neighborhood. A coal miner’s daughter, Paula Jean Swearengin was fed up with watching her friends and family suffer from the environmental effects of the coal industry. Educational resources are here.

The series “Our Planet”  is available. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the eight-part series explores the wonders of our natural world from the creators of the award-winning series “Planet Earth.” Educational materials are here.

The short Period. End of Sentence. is available. The documentary short directed by Rayka Zehtabchi tells the story of women in a rural village outside Delhi, India, who fight against the deeply rooted stigma of menstruation. For generations, these women didn’t have access to pads, which lead to health problems and girls missing school or dropping out entirely. But when a sanitary pad machine is installed in the village, the women learn to manufacture and market their own pads, empowering the women of their community. Educational resources are here.

The short The White Helmets is available. The Netflix original short documentary, set in Aleppo, Syria and Turkey in early 2016 follows three volunteer rescue workers as they put everything on the line to save civilians affected by the war, all the while wracked with worry about the safety of their own loved ones. Educational materials are here

The short Zion is available. It’s the portrait of Zion Clark, a young wrestler born without legs who grew up in foster care. Educational materials are here.

 

Seasons of ‘Baptiste’ and ‘Walter Presents’ Among Programs Streaming in April on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video

“Baptiste,” a spinoff about one of the characters from “The Missing,” several “Walter Presents” series and two programs on the Windermere children who escaped the concentration camps are streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel in April.

Available April 12 is season one of “Babtiste.” Retired and restless, detective Juliene Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo, “The Missing”) is visiting Amsterdam where his daughter has recently given birth. A lunch with old flame Martha Horchner, Amsterdam’s chief of police, turns out to be more than a catch-up on old times: she wants his help finding Natalie, a missing girl who is the niece of Englishman Edward Stratton (Tom Hollander, The Night Manager).

Available now is season four of “Walter Presents: Seaside Hotel.” In the summer of 1931, the newspapers are filled with stories of bankruptcy and world crisis, but that does not seem to interfere with Andersen’s hotel guests who, once again, packed their bags to spend their vacation at the Seaside Hotel.

Also available now is season one of “Walter Presents: The Cliff.” Set against the backdrop of a rural community in Iceland, “The Cliff” follows two detectives as mysterious events begin to unfold in the community. A young man is badly hurt in a strange accident at a remote construction site in the middle of the night. At first glance, the case looks like a freak accident, but could it be more complex than it looks? Reykjavic Crime Detective Helgi is sent to the village to help a young local policewoman investigate the accident. Together they discover a mystery that runs much deeper than one man’s death.

Due April 17 is season one of “Walter Presents: Kepler(s).” Samuel Kepler is an unstable cop suffering from dissociative identity disorder. There are three other individuals that are all competing to take control of his mind and his personality. Transferred to a small police station in Calais, he hopes the quiet and slower pace of life will help him and his family rebuild their lives.

But the death of a girl whose body is found at the refugee “Jungle” pulls him back in.

Coming April 24 is the season one of “Walter Presents: Floodland.” In the remote border region between the Netherlands and Flanders, a mysterious African woman is found wandering around on the Flemish side. Assigned to the case, the charming but nonchalant Belgian court psychiatrist Bert Dewulf is brought in to find out what happened to the deeply traumatized woman. Meanwhile, Tara Dessel, a Dutch police inspector of mixed descent, investigates a bloody shootout on a pleasure yacht. It soon turns out that there is a connection between the two cases.

Available now is The Windermere Children: In Their Own Words, a documentary that reveals a little-known story of 300 orphaned Jewish refugees who began new lives in England’s Lake District in the summer of 1945. The documentary features interviews with former children who survived the Holocaust concentration camps and were rehabilitated in a disused aircraft factory that overlooked Lake Windermere in the United Kingdom. The survivors relive what it was like to live in an unfamiliar country, with no family, not knowing the language or what their future held. The documentary also describes the children’s experiences as they were rounded up by the Germans in their hometowns and taken by cattle train to concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

Also available now is The Windermere Children, a dramatization based on the true story of the 300 children who were saved from the Nazi concentration camps. The cast is led by Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (“Strangers”) and Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”). Child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschamann), art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen) have been given the task of looking after the children once they arrive. By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting and begin to heal. Some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Ultimately alone, the children are haunted by nightmares and hope for news about the families they left behind.

Coming April 18 is the three-episode period drama The Widower. Co-written and executive produced by Jeff Pope (Philomena, “Mrs. Biggs”), The Widower tells the true story of Malcolm Webster. Malcolm (Reece Shearsmith) is a seemingly perfect British gentleman and mild-mannered male nurse; he is well spoken, charismatic, and personable. He marries his first wife, Claire Morris (Sheridan Smith) in 1993. A year later Claire is dead — the victim of a tragic road accident. Four years after the accident, Malcolm is broke and wants to start fresh in New Zealand with his second wife, Felicity. However, on their wedding night she feels off and for the next year suffers from unexplained blackouts. Felicity slowly pieces small clues together before finally realizing that the death of Webster’s first wife might not have been an accident.

Due April 24 is four-episode period piece The Great Fire. In the middle of the night on Sept. 2, 1666, a fire started in a London bakery on Pudding Lane. The blaze raged on for four days and brought the city to complete devastation, eventually becoming known throughout history as the Great Fire of London. Cathedrals, shops, and inns were all lost and 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants became homeless. The Great Fire brings this moment in history to life through the eyes of the people on the ground, from King Charles II to Samuel Pepys to Thomas Farriner, the King’s baker whose bakery is where the fire began. Starring Andrew Buchan (“Broadchurch”), Jack Huston (“Boardwalk Empire”), Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”) and Charles Dance (“The Jewel in the Crown,” “Game of Thrones”), this four-part drama recreates the absolute chaos of a sprawling city imploding and the fear and rumors of eternal treachery that spread much like the inferno.

Netflix’s ‘Crip Camp’ Doc Required Re-creating the Sound of Summer Camp in the ‘70s

Viewers often neglect to appreciate how important sound is to a production. At its most effective, a soundtrack can be as important to the experience of a film as the picture.

For the Netflix/Higher Ground documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, it was crucial to match home movie footage from a summer camp in the 1970s, and sound supervisor Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach was tasked with creating a soundtrack that evoked the times.

Crip Camp, which began streaming on Netflix March 25, chronicles the history of a ramshackle summer camp down the road from Woodstock that galvanized a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement. Executive producers include President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Tonia Davis and Priya Swaminathan, and Oscar nominee Howard Gertler.

The film is co-directed and produced by Emmy Award winner Nicole Newnham and film mixer and former camper Jim LeBrecht.

Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach (left) and co-director/former camper Jim LeBrecht.

“During the spotting session, the sound team, along with sound designer Bijan Sharifi, and I spent a lot of time talking with Jim about what certain moments would have sounded like and how he’d like us to approach it. Jim played a huge role in the conceptual work, mixing and enhancement of audio,” said Bloomfield-Misrach. “Our philosophy for the sound design on Crip Camp was to enhance the audience’s experience as much as possible, without it ever sounding artificial. We absolutely kept everything as true as possible. Things like bird sounds that we added needed to be confirmed as authentic to a particular region, or certain insects that might be prevalent in upstate New York during the summer. We also had to distress the Foley and SFX to make sure it sounded consistent with the camera footage from the appropriate decade.”

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The key was to restore, augment and amplify the sound without making it noticeable.

“Pretty much every archival scene in the film, of which there are many, has some degree of additional sound design in it,” said Bloomfield-Misrach. “It was our job to help the viewer feel close to those scenes, so a lot of work was put into adding a closeness or intimacy to the sounds of the film, while making sure that all of our work was invisible. You never want an audience to notice sound design in a documentary.”

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One of the biggest challenges, he said, was re-creating the sound of a manual wheelchair rolling on a wood-slat deck in the 1970s. The sound design department took a manual wheelchair and drove around until they found a public boardwalk made of wood.

“It also had to be abandoned for us to get a clean recording on it,” he said. “And then further distressing it to sound like an old recording — that took a little time.”

Finding a balance between the original sound recording and necessary amplification was a challenge, especially with footage recorded in the 1970s by teenagers.

“The footage of Jim at Camp Jened was all recorded with a 15-year-old’s handheld microphone,” said Bloomfield-Misrach. “There was a lot of handling noise, background noise, wind noise, and kids screaming into the mic for fun. That footage was the most challenging but also the most rewarding to clean up. We wanted to retain as much of the innocent nature as we could, but we also needed the audio to be intelligible. So we gave a lot of attention to that scene, to find the perfect balance between the two.”

Still, the team didn’t want to lose the character of the footage in forming the soundtrack.

“Imperfections are what make us human, and documentaries tend to have lots of imperfections in their production audio,” said Bloomfield-Misrach. “My team at IMRSV Sound understands the importance of retaining the raw character and humanistic feel that is captured in production. So for Crip Camp, it was the imperfections in the production audio that added so much character to the film. Keeping a lot of that in was very important. Often times we would minimize it or clean it up, but we’d prefer to keep in some of the film’s quirks, and in doing so, be true to the spirit of the film and its filmmakers.”

Doc ‘Refugee’ Coming to Digital April 14 From Virgil

Virgil Films will release the documentary Refugee April 14 on digital and VOD.

From the executive producer of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, Refugee is a harrowing account of Europe’s migrant crisis. It follows a family of Syrian refugees separated by the borders of Europe who fight to be reunited as they migrate from Syria to Germany.

In 2015, at the height of the Syrian war, Raf’aa, a Syrian mother, was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice. With her husband Nazem in the hospital, and the bombs getting closer to Qamilshi, she fled Syria to find asylum for her family, leaving Nazem and their two children Ahmed and Hamoudi behind. They had hoped to reunite in Europe within a few weeks, but by the time Nazem and the children left, it was too late. The political climate had changed and the borders to Europe were closed. Safe in Germany, Raf’aa is traumatized by what she witnessed on her journey and prays her children have not endured the same. Meanwhile 2,000 miles away, Nazem and her children live through their own nightmare in one of the worst refugee camps in Europe. Over the next 18 months, viewers witness a testament to the human spirit as the family fights to be reunited and how a father shields his children from what it means to be a refugee.

Refugee from Virgil Films on Vimeo.