Gravitas Ventures to Release Doc ‘Hood River’ in Theaters and On Demand Sept. 10

Gravitas Ventures has acquired North American distribution rights to the Stick Figure soccer documentary Hood River and will release the film in theaters and on demand Sept. 10.

The documentary follows a high school soccer team in a small Oregon community that strives to overcome class and racial divide in a quest for both individual and team success. While Domingo deals with the deportation of his father to Mexico, and Eric painfully learns how to become a captain and command the respect of his Mexican-American teammates, Coach Riviera struggles to keep the team together amidst the pressure of academics and athletics. Set against the backdrop of a segregated American town, the coming-of-age documentary focuses on the friendship and maturation of these complex and conflicted student athletes.

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Directed by Steven Cantor and Jonathan Field, the film is produced by Steven Cantor and Jamie Schutz and executive produced by Robert Rodriguez in association with the PepsiCo Content Studio and Wavelength.

“Throughout the production, Steven and I felt deeply moved by the social struggles and resolve of the Hood River Valley High School soccer team and we are thrilled to partner with Gravitas in sharing the film with audiences,” Field said in a statement.

“I was thrilled to partner with both Stick Figure and PepsiCo Content Studio in making this timely film that shows how young athletes overcome obstacles both on the field and off,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“Steven and Jonathan’s film utilizes the contrasting perspectives of its subjects to showcase how individual experience can either divide us or be harnessed to strengthen a team effort,” Tony Piantedosi, VP of acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures, said in a statement. “Their film is a reflection of the ongoing struggles that we face in small towns, in large cities, and as a nation. We look forward to presenting this timely documentary to North American audiences.”

Gravitas Ventures Bows Doc ‘Finding Kendrick Johnson’ in Theaters and on VOD

Gravitas Ventures has acquired rights to distribute the documentary Finding Kendrick Johnson, directed by Jason Pollock, in the United States and Canada.

It bowed in 20 theaters around America and on VOD starting July 30.

The filmmaker cracks a major case dealing with the racially charged murder of a teen, according to a Gravitas release.

Kendrick Johnson was found dead rolled up in a gym mat in his high school in 2013. Since then, the state of Georgia has ruled his death an accident. Two independent autopsies have proven otherwise.

“The case of Kendrick Johnson is one of the most important in U.S. history,” Pollock said in a statement. “K.J. deserves justice, and hopefully our film will help his family get one step closer to that outcome.”

The documentary is narrated by Hollywood veteran Jenifer Lewis, who also serves as an executive producer. Other executive producers and producers include actor Hill Harper and Space Jam: A New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee.

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“This is the most important film I’ve ever worked on,” Lewis said in a statement. “What this family has gone through is unspeakable but we must speak it so the public knows the truth. Jason has done a brilliant job on this vital story of injustice.”

Pollock’s previous film, Stranger Fruit, cracked the Mike Brown case open by releasing never-before-seen footage of Mike the night before he was killed by a police officer. Pollock promises that Finding Kendrick Johnson will also have evidence which will crack the case open, according to the press release.

“We have found a lot of new game changing evidence in K.J.’s case, and we’re looking forward to the public seeing everything and making up their own minds,” said Pollock in a statement.

“Gravitas is proud to partner with Jason Pollock again on his latest film, which now more than ever, reinforces the notion that justice and accountability should be vigorously pursued, no matter how long it takes,” Brendan M. Gallagher, Gravitas Ventures EVP and general counsel, said in a statement.

Doc ‘Fish & Men’ Swimming to DVD, VOD and Digital Sept. 14 From Virgil

The documentary Fish & Men will come out on DVD, VOD and digital sellthrough Sept. 14 from Virgil Films.

Today, 91% of fish is imported, as the United States is flooded with 6 billion tons of seafood from abroad annually. Consumers across America eat blissfully unaware of where their seafood is from, or the dire consequences of their demand for only five species of fish sourced from distant oceans.

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Fish & Men exposes the high cost of cheap fish in the modern seafood economy, and the forces threatening local fishing communities as well as the public health. The film explores a new movement underway to return sustainability to both fish and fishermen. Thriving local communities, pioneering fishermen and celebrated chefs are leading a revolutionary new model, a “Catch of the Day” revival based on local, seasonal, sustainable fish — introducing consumers to discover new varieties of storied seafood and reconnect them with those who risk their lives to harvest the bounties of the sea.

Doc ‘Blood Brothers’ on Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali Friendship Debuting on Netflix Sept. 9

The documentary Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, about legendary icons Malcom X and Muhammad Ali and featuring never before seen archival footage, will debut on Netflix Sept. 9.

The documentary feature is inspired by the book Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X written by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith.

Directed by Marcus A. Clarke and produced by Kenya Barris for Khalabo Ink Society and Jason Perez, Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali tells the story behind the friendship of two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century: Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. Ali was the charismatic and outspoken Olympic champion who charmed the nation, and Malcolm X the ex-con-turned revolutionary who railed against white oppression.

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“Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali are two of the most iconic and revered African-Americans of the twentieth century, and yet the depths of their friendship and the influence they had on each other is largely unknown,” Clarke said in a statement. “Blood Brothers provides a deeper understanding into what made these two men tick, the intense role faith played in their bond and ultimately how their budding friendship came to an abrupt end.”

Clarke directed three of six installments of Netflix’s documentary series “Unsolved Mysteries Vol. 1,” as well as three episodes of the Netflix docuseries “Rapture.”

Barris and Khalabo Ink Society are also producing an upcoming documentary on civil rights attorney Ben Crump for Netflix.

‘American Experience: Tesla’ Headlines Titles Coming to PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in August

American Experience: Tesla, The Botany of Desire and Doc World: Cocaine Prison headline the titles coming to the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel in August.

The subscription rate for the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel is $3.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

Due Aug. 6 is American Experience: Tesla. The documentary chronicles the life and influence of Nikola Tesla, dubbed the “patron saint of geeks.” Tesla has had electric cars, rock bands, a unit of measurement, a minor planet, and a lunar crater named after him. Still eclipsed however by contemporaries such as Edison and Marconi, Tesla, the visionary scientist died impoverished and largely forgotten. During his lifetime, he gained international fame for his invention of a system of alternating current that made possible the distribution of electricity over vast distances and is the basis for the electrical grid that powers 21st century life. But the visionary Tesla imagined much more — robots, radio, radar, remote control, the wireless transmission of messages and pictures, and harnessing the wind and sun to provide free energy to all. As a showman, he dazzled his scientific peers who flocked to see him demonstrate his inventions and send thousands of volts of electricity pulsing through his body. His fertile, yet undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius and also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a “mad scientist” came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator. It is his exhilarating sense of the future that has inspired renewed interest in the man, as his once scoffed-at vision of a world connected by wireless technology has become a reality.

Doc World: Cocaine Prison, coming Aug. 15, follows the lives of three Bolivians who work at the lowest levels of the cocaine trade: two prison inmates who film their daily experiences and an inmate’s sister who must decide whether to traffic cocaine or pursue a college education. The film bridges the ever-widening gap between the North and the South and brings a new perspective to the war on drugs being waged in the Andes.

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The Botany of Desire

Based on Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, The Botany of Desire, brought to life through narration by Frances McDormand, is coming Aug. 27. The film focuses on four species of plants that we’ve all interacted with and details how humans have completely shaped these plants’ evolutions and destinies. The documentary takes viewers on an eye-opening exploration of the human relationship with the plant world — seen from the plants’ point of view. The program shows how four familiar species ─ the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato ─ evolved to satisfy our yearnings for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control. The Botany of Desire shows how human desires are an essential, intricate part of natural history. It begins in Michael Pollan’s garden, and then roams the world from the corn fields of Iowa to the apple forests of Kazakhstan, from a medical marijuana hot house to the tulip markets of Amsterdam. One of the great conceits of human civilization is to put ourselves outside nature — constantly shaping and re-shaping the wild for our own purposes. Taking the plants’ view of the world pushes viewers to understand Pollan’s call to restore human activity to its proper place in the matrix of nature.

Doc ‘Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune’ Due on VOD and Digital Aug. 17 From Virgil

The documentary Far Out West: Inside California’s Kerista Commune will be available via VOD and digital sellthrough Aug. 17 from Virgil Films.

In the early 1970s, 25 free spirits found each other in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and formed the Kerista Commune. For two decades, they lived as one family, loving freely, raising children together, and making millions selling Apple computers. But if the alternative society they built was fantastically alluring, it was also fragile, and a quarter century after they voted to dissolve their commune, the former members are still debating what their experiment can teach us about human nature, and whether their utopia was actually a cult in disguise.

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Doc Series ‘Through Our Eyes’ Debuting on HBO Max July 22

The documentary series “Through Our Eyes,” spotlighting the perspectives of children as they experience some of the most challenging issues facing families today, will begin streaming exclusively on HBO Max July 22.

The series explores issues of homelessness, parental incarceration, military caregiving and climate displacement in four 30-minute films designed for adults and as a co-viewing experience for kids ages 9 and older. The series is produced by Sesame Workshop, with each episode directed by lauded filmmakers.

Episode 101 “Through Our Eyes: Apart” looks at the effects of incarceration. One in 14 American children will experience the incarceration of a parent, and 2.7 million children have a parent in prison right now. This introspective portrait shows the effect of incarceration on families. “Apart” shares the experiences of three resilient children navigating the complex emotional challenges of their parents’ incarceration as their families work to provide stability and support. The episode is directed by Primetime Emmy award-winners Geeta Gandbhir (I Am Evidence, Call Center Blues) and Rudy Valdez (The Sentence). It had its world premiere at the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival.

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Episode 102 “Through Our Eyes: Uprooted” looks at the effects of climate change. Since 2016, millions of people in the United States have been displaced by weather-related disasters that are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. In “Uprooted,” two children in Iowa face the loss of their family farm due to climate change, while a third in Texas waits for her hurricane-damaged home to be rebuilt. The film is directed by news and documentary Emmy Award nominee Talleah Bridges McMahon (Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise, My Name is Pauli Murray).

Episode 103 “Through Our Eyes: Homefront” looks at the experiences of service member families. There are currently 1.9 million service members and veterans relying on caregiver support in the United States, and 3.4 million children live in the homes of these caregivers. In “Homefront,” three children of veteran families cope with the emotional impact of having a wounded parent, navigate the unique challenges of visible and invisible injuries sustained during military service, and embark on the family’s journey toward healing. The episode is directed by news and documentary Emmy Award winner Kristi Jacobson (A Place at the Table, Solitary).

Episode 104 “Through Our Eyes: Shelter” looks at homelessness. It follows three unhoused children and their parents in Los Angeles as they navigate housing insecurity. While each family’s circumstance is different, they are bound by love and a common determination to keep their dreams alive.  The film, which won the AFI Docs Audience Award for Best Short, is directed by Academy Award nominee Smriti Mundhra (St. Louis Superman, A Suitable Girl).

‘Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends’ Available for Digital Rental and Purchase From Sony Music and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends, a new two-hour film composed of archival interviews, promotional videos and documentary shorts on the legendary artist’s career, is available now for digital purchase and rental from Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Five other film titles from the Bob Dylan catalog also are available for digital download and rental, including Bob Dylan: Trouble No More — A Musical Film, The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965, Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, Bob Dylan: MTV Unplugged, and the comedy/drama Masked and Anonymous, in which Dylan stars as Jack Fate, a singer coerced into making a comeback performance at a shady benefit concert event.

The new compilation tells the stories of some of the most important moments in Dylan’s career, featuring rare promotional films, videos and behind-the-scenes footage.

The release highlights a distribution collaboration between the Sony companies for long-form content, documentaries and concert films from artists in the Sony Music catalog across multiple digital platforms.

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“Bob Dylan has one of the most iconic catalogs in music history and we are honored to bring it to life,” Tom Mackay, president, premium of content A&R for Sony Music Entertainment said in a statement. “With Sony Pictures, we are giving fans an exclusive inside look at rare, revealing moments from his career. Because of our collaboration, this sort of creative achievement was made easier by combining the unique talent and resources of our two global companies. That partnership offers all of our artists the ideal platform to tell their stories and reach their fans around the world.”

“We are thrilled to team up with Sony Music on this distribution collaboration to bring music fans worldwide great video experiences from some of the most renowned artists in SME’s catalog,” said Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution for North America television and home entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Bob Dylan is one of the most influential musicians of our time with a global fanbase. We could not be more excited to give his fans an inside look at his career through Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends.”

Discovery+ Launches Doc Series ‘Surge at Mount Sinai’ July 1

The non-fiction streaming service Discovery+ will exclusively bow the documentary series The Surge at Mount Sinai globally July 1.

The series, narrated by Jon Bon Jovi, with a track from Billie Eilish, follows three healthcare workers, two intimate patient journeys and experts from across the hospital in one of the world’s largest healthcare systems in the United States during an unprecedented global pandemic. With intimate access to those on the front lines, the film chronicles the race against time as New York City became the global epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and New York was experiencing more than 350 deaths per day.

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“We are honored to shine a light on the heroes who came to the world’s rescue during an unprecedented global pandemic,” Lisa Holme, group SVP of content and commercial strategy at Discovery, said in a statement. “At Discovery+, we take pride in bringing our subscribers the best real-life stories and there is no more important story from the past year than following the trials of our healthcare workers.”

“This film explores the emotional journey of individuals who responded to the pandemic in unimaginable ways,” stated David A. Feinberg, SVP, chief marketing and communications officer at Mount Sinai Health System, dean of marketing and communications at Icahn School of Medicine, and co-executive producer on the documentary. “The heroism and innovative spirit by the scientific and medical community is awe-inspiring. The unprecedented challenges that we faced, the many lives that we saved, and the scientific breakthroughs that were identified gives the viewer a unique view of how we found our way through one of our darkest periods. We hope audiences will be moved and inspired by the bold actions taken by the heroes in this film and will come away understanding who we are as an organization. We are forever changed by this period, and our relentless pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and answers to the world’s most complex health challenges continues.”

“Our purpose for this film was to give the world a glimpse into what life was like for the heroic frontline workers during the height of the pandemic,” Peter Maiden, founder and CEO of production studio Convicts and executive producer on the documentary, said in a statement. “These individuals went above and beyond and dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy to saving the lives of NYC residents. Capturing their perseverance through the pandemic felt like the most important story that could be told during this time. We are grateful for Mount Sinai for the opportunity to engage with their staff and excited to partner with discovery+ to bring these stories to the forefront. We hope the film will inspire audiences to find the goodness in humanity, even in the dark, and to keep purpose at the heart of all they do.”

Disney+ to Stream Peter Jackson’s ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ Doc Over Three-Day Thanksgiving Weekend

The Walt Disney Studios June 17 announced that Disney+ will bring “The Beatles: Get Back,” a Disney+ Original documentary series directed by Lord of the Rings helmer and three-time Oscar winner Peter Jackson, exclusively to the platform over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Jackson doc, which the director has spent the past three years restoring and editing, will be presented as three separate episodes over three days, Nov. 25, 26 and 27. It was made made with the support of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, in addition to John Lennon and George Harrison’s widows Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.

“The Beatles: Get Back” takes audiences back in time to the band’s early recording sessions during a pivotal moment in music history. The documentary showcases the camaraderie and creative genius that defined the legacy of the iconic foursome, compiled from over 60 hours of unseen footage shot in January 1969 (by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) and more than 150 hours of unheard audio, all of which has been restored.

Jackson is the only person in 50 years to have been given access to these private film archives. “The Beatles: Get Back” is the story of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr as they plan their first live show in over two years, capturing the writing and rehearsing of 14 new songs, originally intended for release on an accompanying live album. The documentary features — for the first time in its entirety — The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, as well as other songs and classic compositions featured on the band’s final two albums, Abbey Road and Let It Be.

Bob Iger, executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company, and longtime Beatles fan, helped secure the distribution deal.

“This phenomenal collection of never-before-seen footage offers an unprecedented look at the close camaraderie, genius songwriting, and indelible impact of one of the most iconic and culturally influential bands of all time,” Iger said in a statement.

“In many respects, Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s remarkable footage captured multiple storylines,” Jackson said. “The story of friends and of individuals. It is the story of human frailties and of a divine partnership. It is a detailed account of the creative process, with the crafting of iconic songs under pressure, set amid the social climate of early 1969.”

The director cautioned that the doc is “not nostalgia,” but rather a six-hour “raw, honest, and human” exposé on the The Beatles.

“You’ll get to know [them] with an intimacy that you never thought possible,” Jackson said.

Ahead of the documentary’s Disney+ debut, Apple Corps Ltd./Callaway Arts & Entertainment will release The Beatles: Get Back book on Oct. 12. The 240-page hardcover complements the “Get Back” documentary with transcriptions of The Beatles’ recorded conversations and hundreds of exclusive, never before published photos from the three weeks of sessions. The collectible book will be published in nine international language editions, including English.