Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has acquired North America digital rights to filmmaker Panayioti Yannitsos (“Freedom Besieged”) powerful feature documentary “Florian’s Knights.” Crowbar Pictures, Inc will first release the film in theaters across North America on September 10th, 2021 timed to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Markets to be included in the theatrical rollout – New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, and Saskatoon. Gravitas Ventures will release across all TVOD/Digital platforms & Blu-Ray/DVD throughout the North American continent beginning on November 23rd, 2021. A Canadian production, Yannitsos’ new documentary chronicles firefighters in both the US and Canada who form a controversial motorcycle club to cope with the crippling effects of PTSD. As the Florian’s Knights full patch motorcycle club, the freedom felt on two wheels inspires North American firefighters to speak truth against the stigma of first responder mental health and outlaw biker culture. From the impact of 9/11, to the front lines of the opioid crisis in Vancouver and Toronto, and across the bridge to the arson epidemic in Detroit, Florian’s Knights travel to the darkest pits of the human experience. The real traumas of firefighting are exposed in ways never-before-seen.
“With his unprecedented access, filmmaker Panayioti Yannitsos has crafted a timely, visceral and moving doc that candidly explores the repeated trauma that fire fighters experience, the fallout and what they have ultimately found will help them heal; two wheels and an open road. The unexpected and devastating twist to this story further exposes the difficulties these first responders face in finding support for the sacrifices they make for society making this is a much watch film for all.” – Megan Huggins, Acquisitions Coordinator at Gravitas Ventures.
In April of 2018, director Panayioti Yannitsos met with Crowbar Pictures founder Shawn Galvao to discuss the Florian’s Knights; a new firefighter motorcycle club making waves across North America. Driving home from that meeting, Pan found himself bumper-to-bumper with retired Vancouver Battalion Chief Rod MacDonald, who was riding his motorcycle, a Florian’s Knights patch on his back. Staring at the patch for several minutes in traffic, the serendipitous event convinced Yannitsos to sign on to direct the film. Over the course of three years, Yannitsos and a core team of only four fellow filmmakers slept in fire halls across North America, often in 24-hour shifts, responding to emergencies in real time.
“For over a century, firefighters in North America have grappled with the harsh reality of post-traumatic stress. In pursuit of making this movie, we were faced with a code of silence engrained in fire departments for generations. I knew that this moratorium on mental health was costing men and women their lives, whether through substance abuse, depression, or suicide and I felt a responsibility to shine a light on this very human struggle and bring it to audiences.” – filmmaker Panayioti Yannitsos.
“Florian’s Knights” follows the lives of a number of first responders and experts. All of the following documentary subjects will be available for press interviews – Firefighter Matthew Sabini (New York Fire Department / Florian’s Knights MC), Retired Captain Erik Bjarnason (North Vancouver Fire Dept / Florian's Knights MC), Retired Battalion Chief Rod MacDonald (Vancouver Fire Dept / Florian’s Knights MC), Acting Captain Bill Shokar (New Westminster Fire Department / Florian’s Knights MC), Captain Jack Cooper (Toronto Fire Service / Florian’s Knights MC), Battalion Chief Michael V. Nevin (Detroit Fire Department), Senior Lieutenant Darnell McLaurin (Detroit Fire Department / Axemen MC), and Dr. Don Vaughn, PHD (Neuroscientist, UCLA).
Dr. Don Vaughn, Michael Maggiora, and their team measured the brain activity, heart rate, and hormone levels of over 50 experienced motorcycle riders in “Project Free.” The study was peer reviewed and accepted by Brain Research. The study concluded that riding a motorcycle can decrease hormonal biomarkers of stress. The work was funded by a grant from Harley-Davidson.
“Florian’s Knights” is directed, edited & produced by Panayioti Yannitsos, executive produced by Shawn Galvao, with cinematography by Jon Thomas (“The Angel Tree”) & Blake Davey (“Someone Like Me,” “Rupture”), and sound design by Jamie Spittal (“Freedom Besieged”).
Additional markets interested in theatrical bookings should contact Henry Lystad at Adventure Entertainment
Panayioti Yannitsos negotiated on behalf of the filmmaking team directly with Megan Huggins, Acquisitions Coordinator at Gravitas Ventures.
Where to follow the film and its journey:
About Gravitas Ventures
Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, is a leading all rights distributor of independent feature films and documentaries. Founded in 2006, Gravitas connects independent filmmakers and producers with distribution opportunities across the globe. Working with talented directors and producers, Gravitas Ventures has distributed thousands of films into over a hundred million homes in North America - over one billion homes worldwide. Recent releases include Our Friend directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, starring Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson, and Jason Segel,Vanguard, directed by Stanley Tong and starring Jackie Chan, The Secret: Dare to Dream, directed by Andy Tennant and starring Katie Holmes; End of Sentence starring Logan Lerman and John Hawkes; Looks that Kill; Tread; Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk, narrated by Bill Murray; and Colin Hanks’ All Things Must Pass. For more information, please visit gravitasventures.com, and follow @GravitasVOD on Twitter and @gravitasventures on Instagram.
About Red Arrow Studios
Red Arrow Studios is one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of entertainment content, comprised of an acclaimed network of international production companies and labels in seven territories; world-leading digital studio, Studio71, based in six countries; and global film and TV distributors Red Arrow Studios International and Gravitas Ventures. The group’s significant output includes scripted, non-scripted and formatted content and IP, from TV and film to short-form and branded content, made for an array of global networks and platforms. Red Arrow Studios is part of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, one of Europe's leading media groups. redarrowstudios.com