Virgil Bliss is a man obsessed with living a normal life, finding a good job, marrying a decent woman, and building a family of his own. But as a recently paroled career thief with a hair-trigger temper and the social skills of a child, he faces distinct challenges. At the halfway house where he gets his first taste of freedom in over a decade, Virgil meets Manny Alvarez, a fiery miscreant who takes the emotionally naive Virgil under his wing and initiates him in the ways of the world. It’s Manny who introduces Virgil to Ruby, an opportunistic junkie with whom Virgil falls instantly in love. As Virgil and Ruby learn to trust each other, they share their concerns: Ruby plans to win back custody of her four-year-old son and Virgil confesses the horrible and senseless crime that landed him in prison. After his release from the halfway house, Virgil finds work as a janitor and moves in with Ruby. But their attempts to adjust as a family come undone with the arrival of the psychotic Manny.
VIRGIL BLISS premiered at the 2001 Slamdance Film Festival. It went on to screen at SXSW, the IFP West/Los Angeles Film Festival; the Seattle International Film Festival; the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival.
In 2002, Joe was awarded a New York State Council on the Arts grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts distribution grant to aid in the release of VIRGIL BLISS, which was eventually purchased for theatrical distribution by First Run Features, and for North American cable by The Sundance Channel.
VIRGIL BLISS won the Jury Award for Best Feature at the 2001 Atlanta International Film Festival and was nominated for two 2002 Independent Spirit Awards – the John Cassavetes Award and Best Debut Performance for Clint Jordan.
“Riveting. VIRGIL BLISS has as a gentle, unforced intimacy that raises the spectre of heroic nobility with subtlety and poignancy.” - THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Unknown actor Jordan is so good, that if there is any justice he won’t remain unknown for long.” - THE DAILY NEWS
“Sparkling like a diamond in the rough, VIRGIL BLISS is packed full of the the kind of low-life Skid Row characters normally found in the novels of Hubert Selby or Charles Bukowski. A mighty impressive debut.” - BBC/UK