Director/Writer: Barry Avrich
Producer and story by : Melissa Coghlan
Editor: Alex Shuper
Music: Jim McGrath
For Immediate Release
(Toronto – March 24, 2009) Can a statue of the ultimate movie underdog – Rocky – inspire a town of underdogs in the war torn Balkans? Barry Avrich’s Amerika Idol: A True Story offers up a funhouse-mirror tale of movie platitudes and great expectations.
In a tiny town called Zitiste, 33 miles north of Belgrade, a group of villagers decide they have enough of being referred to as the folks from “war-torn Serbia,” and decide to change their destiny. Of course there’s no denying more than 4,000 years of floods, famine and war will give a place a reputation.
But the year 2007 saw the people of Zitiste unite in the selection of new symbol they hoped would reverse their fortune. Many heroic names were considered (the Bosnian city of Mostar had already erected a statue of Bruce Lee). But in the end, they unanimously selected the “Italian Stallion,” Rocky Balboa, as the icon to lead them to prosperity.
Amerika Idol: A True Story follows the journey of a community to come together and build a Rocky Balboa statue in the middle of their tiny town. There the villagers would not only have a heroic symbol to look up to, but also a local attraction that would attract the eyes of the world and change life in Zitiste for the better, forever.
The film profiles the locals who came up with the idea and interviews the original artist who designed the statue for the Rocky movies, the local artist who was selected to create the Serbian statue, as well as the investors and countrymen who threw their support behind the idea from the beginning. Among the project’s most prestigious supporters: Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, who expresses in Amerika Idol: A True Story, his gratitude to the people of Zitiste for the honour accorded to him.
After the story first appeared in The New York Times, the village did in fact attract thousands of media outlets and curious tourists from around the world. For the villagers, their dream had become a reality. Amerika Idol: A True Story is the American Dream, re-written in Serbian.