Docs ‘Bowden Dynasty’ and ‘The Mustangs’ Available on VOD and EST in November From Virgil

The documentaries The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family & Football and The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses will be released on VOD and EST in November by Virgil Films.

The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family & Football is due on VOD and EST Nov. 9. It chronicles the career of college football Coach Bobby Bowden, who fought against all odds to forge one of the greatest achievements in sports history: 14 consecutive top-four seasons. Legendary for his unyielding faith, Bowden inspired untold acts of grace and courage that changed the lives of those around him. Beginning with a come-from-behind victory in the 1988 Fiesta Bowl, Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles began a flirtation with perfection. In seven of those years they lost just one game.  More often than not, the Seminoles’ quest for a perfect season came down to one play where mere inches or seconds determined the outcome.

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Bowden passed away this past August at his Killearn Estates home surrounded by his loving family. He was 91 years old. For all the accolades bestowed upon Coach Bowden and his teams for their on-field achievements, the insider stories of the coach and his enormous impact on those around him have never been told like this. Featuring such luminaries as Bart Starr, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Kenny Chesney, Burt Reynolds, Lou Holtz, Jimmy Johnson, Jim Kelly and Nick Saban, The Bowden Dynasty: A Story of Faith, Family, & Football extends beyond football, to explore universal themes of faith, stewardship, humility and redemption.

The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses is being released on VOD and EST Nov. 23. The feature documentary is executive produced by Robert Redford, Patti Scialfa Springsteen and Jessica Springsteen and takes audiences on an odyssey throughout America to places few people have seen or even know about. There are more than 80,000 wild horses on federal lands and more than 50,000 in government.

“The wild horse is so ingrained in the American imagination that even those who have never seen one know what it stands for: fierce independence, unbridled freedom, the bedrock ideals of the nation,” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Philipps says. “From car ads to high school mascots, the wild horse — popularly known as the mustang — is the enduring icon of America. But in modern times it has become entangled in controversy and bureaucracy, and now its future is in question.”

The movie makes the case for the protection of wild horses and public lands.

Virgil Films Doc ‘The Real Bedford Falls’ Arrives on DVD Nov. 9

Virgil Films has announced a Nov. 9 DVD release date for The Real Bedford Falls: It’s a Wonderful Life, a new documentary on the real town that inspired the fictitious Bedford Falls in the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

Retail orders are due Oct. 12.

The 30-minute doc, with a suggested retail price of $9.95, was directed by Stu Lisson and Francis DiClemente.

The Real Bedford Falls: It’s a Wonderful Life explores the connections between Seneca Falls, New York, and Bedford Falls, the iconic small town featured in Frank Capra’s 1946 feel-good film about George Bailey (James Stewart), a man who has given up his personal dreams in order to help others in his community, and whose suicide attempt on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George how he, George, has touched the lives of others and how different life would be for his wife Mary and his community of Bedford Falls if he had not been born.

The documentary examines small-town life in Seneca Falls, spotlights the annual It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, and features interviews with Karolyn Grimes (who played Zuzu Bailey), Jimmy Hawkins (who played Tommy Bailey), Monica Capra Hodges, granddaughter of Frank Capra, and film critic Leonard Maltin.

Indie Suppliers Going Straight to DVD

On the eve of its 25th anniversary, the DVD is staging a comeback, at least among independent suppliers.

The five-inch digital disc was launched in March 1997 by Warner Bros. and MGM, but didn’t really impact the market until two years later, when Walmart began selling DVDs. Several years of explosive growth followed, giving the home entertainment business new respectability and a seat at the table in greenlighting movies.

Joe Amodei

But beyond the actual product, the DVD ushered in a digital revolution that would later bring us the Blu-ray Disc, digital distribution over cable and the Internet, and streaming.

With disc sales steadily declining, year after year, a number of independent suppliers are abandoning Blu-ray Disc and going back to DVD as the sole physical media distribution vehicle for their films. Their reasons range from cost to retail preference and consumer choice.

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“About 75% of our films get released on DVD along with the digital release,” said Joe Amodei, president and CEO of Virgil Films & Entertainment. “The other 25% are digital only. I’d say only about 20% of our releases get a Blu-ray. I am primarily docs, and they just don’t sell like they used to.”

At Shout! Factory, the push toward DVD is largely due to what’s happening at retail, says John Rotella, the company’s SVP of Sales.

John Rotella

“Our primary reason is due to Walmart being committed to DVD first and backing away from Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD, which sets the table for most releases that have mass-placement potential,” Rotella said.  “I can see us making more and more decisions to not release a Blu-ray on some Walmart-placed DVDs.

“Best Buy, on the other hand, is not interested in DVD and only takes Blu-ray and 4K, so on these Walmart DVD-placed titles if Best Buy decides to support a Blu-ray we will accommodate. If Best Buy passes on the Blu-ray then that, at times, is the death rattle.”

Target, Rotella notes, “leans toward the Blu-ray if the content is elevated by box office or cast or when the Blu-ray elevates a release by making it look more important. If they want to make the buying decision easier for the customer by offering a film at a lower price, the DVD will be the choice and possibly hurt the future of the Blu-ray. It all depends on content.”

Cost also is a factor, Rotella said. “Deciding not to release a Blu-ray can be a workload decision or if we have concerns with production costs,” he said. “Pricing is a barrier for Blu-ray on these types of films that simply meet consumer demand on DVD at a lower price. The DVD picture quality on modern Blu-ray players is good, so the quality difference isn’t enough to pay the extra dollars.”

Rotella said genres also factor in. “Black films, WWII films, Westerns, action films, and horror films have a stronger DVD base, so at times a Blu-ray Disc may not be necessary,” he says. “Big box office, big cast, pedigree, dramas, film noir, foreign, sci-fi, anime — these films do require a Blu-ray release, and the DVD is in jeopardy. We do make decisions to release a Blu-ray/DVD combo to allow us to have one SKU that caters to both sides of the aisle. The higher cost is an issue, but it does help strike a compromise.”

Not all indies are DVD-centric.

Alan Fergurson

“We are actually releasing more Blu-ray Discs than DVDs now,” said Alan Fergurson, SVP of home entertainment and business development at Kino Lorber. “That is driven by the number of major studio releases that we have licensed and release via our Kino Lorber Studio Classics label. In most cases, the studio has already exploited the DVD version, and we focus on the Blu-ray Disc as a collectible edition featuring a new HD or 4K master, new artwork and new extras such as interviews, etc.”

Still, Fergurson said, “On our Kino Lorber arthouse and documentary releases, we are releasing more DVDs. Our decision process is that our foreign-language arthouse and documentaries don’t have the wide, collectible appeal on disc, and the buyers are primarily direct-mail-order consumers who are still primarily DVD, libraries and consumers with a passionate interest in the individual films. We also look at the cinematic elements of a film before deciding not to do a Blu-ray, like is it a lush nature doc or a well-known international director with an avid cineaste following?”

Faith-Based Drama ‘Heaven’ Due on DVD and Digital HD Oct. 5 From Virgil

The faith-based drama Heaven will be released on DVD and digitally Oct. 5 from Virgil Films.

Based on the book Heaven: The Adventure Begins by author Alan Duprey and adapted to screenplay by screenwriter Angus Benfield,  the film tells the story of Jonathan Stone, a middle-aged paramedic who struggles to find meaning in the midst of his everyday life, until he wakes up one day in Heaven and discovers that his life had more meaning than he could ever have imagined. Set between Heaven and Earth, Heaven follows the life and afterlife of Jonathan and the lives of those around him from his past, present and future.

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Doc Short ‘St. Junípero Serra: A Man of God, A Mission of Love’ Available Digitally Sept. 28 From Virgil

The documentary short St. Junípero Serra: A Man of God, A Mission of Love will come out for digital purchase Sept. 28 from Virgil Films.

The documentary short tells the story of Friar Junípero Serra as he served Native Americans in California with a mission rooted in Christ’s commandments to love others and to share the Gospel with all nations.

St. Junípero Serra was canonized in 2015 by Pope Francis.

‘Nomadland’ Director’s Debut Feature, Four Other Films Arriving on Disc Oct. 5 from Kino Lorber

Kino Lorber has announced five films arriving on disc Oct. 5, two on Blu-ray Disc and three on DVD. The order deadline for retailers is Sept. 7

Arriving on Blu-ray Disc are Songs My Brother Taught Me and, from the Cohen Media Group, The Awakening.

Songs My Brother Taught Me is the 2015 debut feature from Chloé Zhao, the Academy Award-winning director of Nomadland (2020). A portrait of modern day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the film explores the bond between a brother (John Reddy) and his younger sister (Jashaun St. John), who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the
meaning of home.

The Awakening is a British horror film centered on the death of a child at a boarding school. When the death is blamed on a ghost, hoax exposer Florence Cathcart is certain that science and reason can explain it. But the truth she discovers is more terrifying than she could ever imagine, and soon the ghost hunter becomes the hunted. The Awakening stars Rebecca Hall (The Town), Dominic West (“The Wire”) and Imelda Staunton (“Harry Potter” films).

DVD releases that become available Oct. 5 include Playing Frisbee in North Korea, Virgil Films’ Heaven and Greenwich Entertainment’s Not Going Quietly.

Playing Frisbee in North Korea is the first documentary produced and directed by an African-American female filmmaker from inside North Korea. The idea began at a conference on Korean re-unification organized by General Colin L. Powell and the Colin Powell Center, where director Savanna Washington was a graduate Fellow. Through verité footage from inside North Korea, interviews with North Korean refugees, long-time aid workers, scholars, and experts on the topic, this documentary provides an authentic, on the ground perspective of the lives, struggles, and humanity of the people of North Korea.

Heaven is a faith-based film inspired by the book Heaven: The Adventure Begins, by Alan Duprey. The film tells the story of Jonathan Stone (Angus Benfield), a middle-aged paramedic who struggles to find meaning in the midst of his everyday life, until he wakes up one day in heaven and discovers that his life had more meaning than he could ever have imagined.

Not Going Quietly is a documentary about a rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan, whose life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a confrontation with powerful Sen. Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Barkan and a motley crew of activists ignite a political movement called “Be a Hero.” Together, they barnstorm across the country and empower people to confront their elected officials with emotional, personal stories to demand healthcare justice.

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 ‘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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Horror Film ‘Scare Us’ Due on DVD and Digital June 26 From Virgil

The horror film Scare Us will come out on DVD and digital June 26 from Virgil Films.

​The anthology follows five short stories penned by an unlikely group of aspiring writers in Sugarton — a small town plagued by the apparent return of an infamous serial killer dubbed “Cutthroat.” The authors have come to share their scary stories with each other and the bookstore owner Peter, who leads the group, but they soon discover they’ve become the stars of a sick killer’s own twisted tale.

Directed by Carl Jensen IV, Ryan Henry Johnston and Ryan Kjolberg, the film stars Tom Sandoval, Charlotte Lilt and Michelle Palermo.

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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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