Alliance nabs rights for ‘Beef’ and ‘Bong’

Company committed to 'nurturing directors'

Alliance Independent Films has added two new feature acquisitions to its slate of offerings: docu-drama “Beefcake,” the sophomore effort from Canadian filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald, and “Bongwater,” a comedy set in the bohemian subcultures of art and drugs, from first-time helmer Richard Sears.

Fitzgerald’s first feature, “The Hanging Garden,” has won several festival awards, including the Audience Award and Best Canadian Feature Award at the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival. MGM will release the pic.

“I think the ‘Beefcake’ acquisition represents our commitment to nurturing directors,” says Charlotte Mickie, Alliance Independent Films’ senior vice president. “It’s really positioned to succeed as a docu-drama.”

The pic, a humorous look at the muscle magazine-style of nude male photography that flourished during the 1950s and 1960s, combines archival 8mm footage from the era with campy dramatic sequences. Fitzgerald’s script was inspired by the book by Valentine Hooven. Fitzgerald and Shandi Mitchell produced through their company, Emotion Pictures.

“Beefcake” is still in the post-production stage and will likely see its earliest screenings at summer film festivals. Toronto is a strong possibility, given the warm reception Fitzgerald’s first pic received there.

“Bongwater” is an ensemble comedy about a young woman who ends up in the Portland, Ore., hipster scene, seeking fame and fortune. Sears, whose “An Evil Town” won the award for best short film at Cannes in 1996, directs from a script by Nora Macooby and Eric Axel Weiss, based on a novel by Michael Hornburg. Laura Bickford and Alessandro Uzielli of Gin Lane Films produced.

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