Doc ‘21 Miles’ Travels to Digital Jan. 16 From Virgil

The documentary 21 Miles is traveling to digital HD Jan. 16 from Virgil Films.

From Director Richard Parry (Shooting Robert King, BASE) and executive produced by Coldplay’s manager Dave Holmes and creative director Phil Harvey, the film is the story of a father’s incredible journey to reach his son in England.

Kais, a 30-year-old Tunisian, arrives in the French shantytown with nothing more than the shirt on his back and 21 miles of sea between him and his 8-year-old boy Marcel.

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21 Miles from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

Drama ‘Trafficked’ Coming to DVD and Digital HD Jan. 26 From Virgil

The feature-length drama Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare will be released on DVD and Digital HD Jan. 26, during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, by Virgil Films.

Directed by Joel Paul Reisig and written by Reisig, George Sunders, and Scott Voshel, Trafficked is based on actual stories of American families who have had their lives uprooted after a child has been abducted and trafficked.

The story follows Allison Riley (Sophie Bolen, The Horse Dance, Rodeo Girl), a beautiful young girl with a bright future and a dream of becoming a veterinarian. On the eve of her 16th birthday, she sneaks out of her house to meet a handsome boy she met online and disappears. Her parents, Joanna (Kristy Swanson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Case (Mark Boyd, Whip It, “12 Monkeys”), contact the police who assume that Allison is just out with a boyfriend. They reluctantly hire private investigator John Belton (Dean Cain, “Lois and Clark,” God’s Not Dead), who has a reputation for making his own rules. Belton quickly discovers that Allison has likely been trafficked by a young man she met online and that he’s on a race against time if the Rileys hope to see their daughter again.

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“Awareness is the first step towards putting an end to these atrocities in our world,” Bob Elder, president of distributor Collide Media Group, said in a statement. “Trafficked is a heart-pounding feature film reminding us of how urgent this topic is and why we need to act now.”

‘Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Talking’ Due on DVD, EST and VOD Dec. 8 From Virgil

The documentary Michael Smerconish: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started will come out on DVD, digital sellthrough and VOD Dec. 8 from Virgil Films.

Smerconish celebrates his 30th year as a talk radio host in this one-man performance, which is both an intimate memoir and a unique explanation of the origin of nation’s partisan divide. He regales viewers with stories that range from meeting Ronald Reagan as a newly minted voter, dining for eight hours with Fidel Castro, entertaining rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Famers’ Yes in his backyard and confronting the living members of Led Zeppelin with a demand that they reunite. Smerconish’s political journey from reliable Republican to one of the nation’s leading independent voices is both personal to him and a compelling explanation of the nation’s shift toward partisanship.

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He went to great lengths to ensure his account would come to life. The 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic coincided with the launch of what was to be a nationwide speaking tour. Tickets for a two-night Philadelphia launch sold-out in under five hours; other dates across country were about to be announced when the world went into lockdown. Undeterred, Smerconish recruited noted television director Chris Strand to oversee the recording of this onetime performance in the empty and historic Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pa., on a stage once graced by theater royalty including Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart, Kevin Kline and Andrea McArdle.

The result is an engaging, informative, humorous and compelling look at America’s political landscape through the lens of a unique observer. In July of 2020, CNN aired a one-hour special featuring some of the material contained in this, the full program.

Doc ‘Miniature Wargaming: The Movie’ Due on Digital and VOD Dec. 1 From Virgil

The documentary Miniature Wargaming: The Movie will come out via digital sellthrough and VOD Dec. 1 from Virgil Films.

The film dives into the heart of the miniature wargaming industry and reveals the impact it has on people’s lives. The film follows four individuals as they unveil how wargaming affects their lives in different ways: Andy Bryant, a British war veteran who turns to wargaming as an escape; Chris Nicholls, owner of a small business fighting to secure his family’s future; and two young gamers, Matt and Adam, who travel across Europe in a bid to fulfill their dream of competing in an international tournament. Finally, uncover the true story behind this incredible hobby with best-selling author Henry Hyde who reveals how this hobby came to pass.

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The documentary includes never-before-seen footage with Sir Peter Jackson (director of the “Lord of The Rings” series) and interviews with Rick Priestley (creator of miniature games Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000), sculptors Alan and Michael Perry, and Warlord Games co-founders Paul Sawyer and John Stallard.

Miniature Wargaming: The Movie from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

Doc ‘Maybe Next Year’ Coming to DVD and Digital HD Nov. 10 From Virgil

The documentary Maybe Next Year, about Philadelphia football fans, will come out on DVD and digital HD Nov. 10 from Virgil Films.

Since 1776, Philadelphia has existed in the shadows of New York City and Washington D.C. Counted out and overlooked, Philadelphians turned to football as a way to let out their frustrations. After 58 years of coming up short, a Super Bowl title has become Philly’s holy grail. What started out as the most promising year in decades, the 2017 season quickly unraveled with the season ending injury of their MVP quarterback. With the deck stacked against them, an “underdog” city bands together and puts their faith in an unlikely backup.

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From throwing snowballs at Santa Claus to having a jail in their stadium, this fan base has earned their title of “worst in the NFL.” Maybe Next Year peels back the veil and offers an intimate look at the lives of four very different and very dedicated Eagles fans, unified by their commitment to family, unwavering passion, and the common dream of becoming Super Bowl Champions. Eagles fans paint their own portrait of what brotherly love truly means in this comeback sports story.

Election Doc ‘Win, Lose, or Draw Straws’ Due on Digital Oct. 13 From Virgil

The documentary Win, Lose, or Draw Straws will come out on Digital HD Oct. 13 from Virgil Films.

The feature exposes one particular oddity of the U.S election system, the increasing existence of and wildly varied ways of determining elections that end in perfect ties. Told by the people who experienced the emotional highs and lows of a political campaign that was determined by a random game of chance and exposing the way random luck affects our lives from local races all the way to the White House, the film travels the country to uncover the most peculiar election tiebreakers in American history, while exposing the backroom dealing and insider trading of local politics.

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Along the way viewers meet colorful characters who have participated in, worked on, and voted or not voted in real elections that ended in perfect ties. They meet the woman who lost a bowl-drawing in Virginia that shifted the power of government and nearly installed a new governor. The documentary also delves into the Mississippi house election that swung the supermajority control after being reversed three times. It also investigates the coin flips between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Iowa caucus.

Coupled with historical context from the presidential campaign of 1800 to the 2000 Bush-Gore debacle in Florida, and the 2016 Iowa and Nevada caucus coin flips and high-card draws, the documentary explores important themes such as why people want to seek office in the first place and the cultural perceptions of luck, destiny and America itself.

Win, Lose, or Draw Straws from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

‘Two Boston Guys’ Comedy Program Due on Digital HD Oct. 6 From Virgil

Two Boston Guys, featuring a pair of Boston comics, will come out on Digital HD Oct. 6 from Virgil Films.

Jimmy Dunn and Tony V., the two comics, met more than 30 years ago while working their way up through the New England comedy circuit. Both are Massachusetts natives, Tony from Charlestown and Jimmy from Beverly. In their very first joint special, they paint a portrait of married life in the suburbs of Boston and crack wise about their wives, their neighbors, and the people they really wish they could punch in the throat. With their combined comedic talents, they represent the very best of what Boston has to offer.

Two Boston Guys from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

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‘Irresistible,’ ‘Rogue’ Top Slate of New Disc Releases, While ‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Goonies’ Bow on 4K Ultra HD

The political satire Irresistible, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and Lionsgate’s action thriller Rogue, with Megan Fox as a battle-hardened mercenary, top the slate of new disc releases available Sept. 1.

Written and directed by Jon Stewart, Irresistible features a cast headed by Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis and Topher Grace. Carell portrays a campaign strategist who runs a Democratic mayoral candidate (Cooper) in a small right-wing town.

The film, from Focus Features, was rerouted from a May 2020 theatrical release by the coronavirus pandemic and instead debuted in June on premium VOD. It became available through regular digital channels on Aug. 18.

Read John Latchem’s review of the Irresistible Blu-ray Disc here

Rogue finds Samantha O’Hara (Fox) leading a team of soldiers-for-hire on a daring mission to rescue hostages from their captors in rural Africa.  They wind up stranded and have to battle not only brutal rebels but also a horde of enraged lions.

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Also out Sept. 1 are 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of the Tim Burton ghost movie Beetlejuice and the 1980s cult favorite adventure The Goonies, both from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Beetlejuice (1988) stars Michael Keaton as a ghost who helps a recently deceased couple played by Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt their former home. The Goonies (1985),  based on a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg, follows a band of kids from the blue-collar “Goon Docks” neighborhood who set out to save their homes from foreclosure by following an old treasure map.

On the TV front, consumers as of Sept. 1 can buy, on disc, the complete third season of “Young Sheldon” (from Warner Bros.), the second season of “Magnum P.I.” (from Paramount/CBS), and the first season of “Blood & Treasure” (also from Paramount/CBS).

New digital releases include Guest House, from Lionsgate, and Breaking the Chain, from Virgil Films, the company headed by industry veteran Joe Amodei. Guest House is a comedy about an engaged couple whose new dream home comes with a slight drawback: a party animal who lives in the guest house. Breaking the Chain is an animal-rescue documentary that follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Animal-Rescue Doc ‘Breaking the Chain’ Coming to Digital HD Sept. 1

The animal-rescue documentary Breaking the Chain will come out on digital HD Sept. 1 from Virgil Films.

From executive producer Anjelica Huston, Breaking the Chain follows fieldworkers with PETA’s Community Animal Project as they visit impoverished areas of Virginia and North Carolina to give care to mistreated animals who — without their help — would continue to suffer or even die. The film explores the uphill battle that faces neglected animals and their champions who work on the frontlines of the animal neglect and overpopulation crisis. Forgotten animals rely on PETA’s field team for even the most basic necessities of life as often these are the only humans in their lives providing them with adequate shelter, basic medical care, or even much-needed affection.

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Confronting misconceptions from within the animal sheltering community and beyond, Breaking the Chain celebrates real efforts to change the world for companion animals and the behind-the-scenes work of the people who are making it happen.

Breaking the Chain from Virgil Films on Vimeo.

 

The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Street Date 8/25/20;
Virgil;
Documentary;
Not Rated.

Spectacular highs and lows are the stuff of great stories, and the true tale of investor David Blech spans both — fantastic financial gains and incredible losses.

The documentary The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech chronicles the journey of man known for starting multiple biotech companies that have helped countless people and generated enormous wealth. As Blech himself admits in the film, if only he were in a coma for the last 15 years, he would be a multi-billionaire. Forbes Magazine once pegged his worth at more than $300 million, and he was on the Fortune 400 list. He became known as the “King of Biotech” and his influence on the market coined the term “The Blech Effect.”

But he couldn’t hold onto it. Bipolar disorder and a gambling addiction — what Blech terms a “manic push” — kept him constantly looking for the next big thing.

“When you do things that are outrageous, outrageous things happen to you,” Blech says in the film, calling his life a cautionary tale.

The documentary catches up with Blech at a low point, $11 million in debt, struggling to keep his family afloat and awaiting a jail sentence for his latest hijinks on Wall Street. His wife also struggles to keep him from spiraling into depression, as she looks after their son, who has been developmentally disadvantaged since birth. At one point, Blech notes that every time he sees one of those ubiquitous Cialis commercials, he is reminded of one of the companies he fostered and the money that eluded his grasp — money that could help him stay in his apartment and take care of his wife and son.

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Blech is looking for another big score with a company working on an Alzheimer’s drug that might just solve all his problems. Viewers experience the hope and anxiety about its success along with the couple — offering a taste of the rollercoaster ride Blech has been on much of his adult life.

Will it be the success that gets him out of the jam he’s in or will he have to face ultimate failure?

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Ultimately, The Blech Effect, like a classic tragedy, celebrates the talents and pride of its hero while revealing his fatal flaws. The fact that Blech ultimately comes to terms with his fate — and his responsibility for it — gives the story an added poignancy.