FilmRise Acquires “The Champions” Documentary About Pit Bulls Rescued From Michael Vick’s Dog Fighting Ring

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January 4, 2016 — FilmRise has acquired the exclusive non-theatrical worldwide rights in all media to The Champions, a high-profile documentary about the rehabilitation of the pit bull dogs rescued from Michael Vicks’ brutal dogfighting ring.

In 2007, the Atlanta Falcons’ star quarterback, Michael Vick, was tried and found guilty of running an illegal dog fighting ring. Although he originally denied having anything to do with the ring, he would eventually confess to authorities that he had bankrolled it and participated in it. Eventually he would  admit to having killed some of the dogs himself.

He was sentenced to 23 months in prison for running a “cruel and inhumane” dog fighting ring.

That story is well known. What happened to more than 70 dogs found at the site, most of whom were pit bulls, and some of whom were injured — is less well-known.

The Champions tells their story.

After Vick’s arrest, PETA and The Humane Society were pressured to euthanize the animals, however, a number of people stepped forward to protect them and rehabilitate five of them. In collaboration with the Best Friends Animal Society, the film shows how strong the relationship between people and animals can be — and the importance of redemption and second chances.

Director Darcy Dennett stated “We are humbled and overwhelmed by the positive response we have received to the film so far, and hope that securing wider distribution will allow many more people to share in the uplifting story of these extraordinary dogs and the inspirational work of Best Friends Animal Society and BAD RAP [the animal rights organization of owners, rescuers, and supporters of the American Pit Bull Terrier] in 2016.” 

FilmRise is releasing The Champions digitally on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play and Vudu. It will also hit the DVD and Blu-ray market in the winter of 2016. 
Danny Fisher, FilmRise’s CEO, described the impact of the film: The Champions is a story about hope and resilience, but most importantly, the relationship we as humans have with animals.”

The film debuted at the Hamptons International Film Festival and won the 2015 Zelda Penzel award for “giving voice to the voiceless” and the people’s choice award at the 2015 Denver Film Festival.

It has been an official selection of the Heartland Film Festival, the St. Louis International Film Festival, the Denver Film Festival, the Hamptons Film Festival and the Doc NYC Film Festival.

FilmRise has also recently acquired the rights to the documentaries Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans and Janis: Little Girl Blue, in addition to Monster Hunt, the animated/live action film that has become the highest grossing film in China’s history.

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