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Alliance Atlantis pacts Podeswa

Canucks unveil co-prods

Alliance Atlantis’ pic production slate is anchored by a number of Canadian-British co-productions and a first-look deal with Canuck writer-director Jeremy Podeswa.

Seaton McLean, the newly-installed president of motion picture production at the Toronto-based company, said Alliance Atlantis will continue to focus on independent, director-driven films but added that the company will now also be pursuing more commercial projects.

The slate is the first initiative since McLean took over pic production earlier this year and is the company’s first feature slate since Alliance and Atlantis merged in the summer of 1998.

Films on the schedule for Alliance Atlantis include “Are You Experienced,” to be directed by Gurinder Chadha, who wrote and directed Sundance entry “What’s Cookin’.” “Are You Experienced” is a romantic comedy about teens backpacking in India who’re on a quest for love, sex and spiritual fulfillment.

In addition, Alliance Atlantis is co-producing “Fine and Mellow” with Killer Films’ Christine Vachon (Variety Show Daily, May 10). It is backing “Morvern Caller,” to be written and directed by Scottish helmer Lynne Ramsay (“Ratcatcher”), and “Petticoat War,” a British period piece directed by Mike Barker (“The James Gang”).

McLean also announced that Alliance Atlantis has inked a first-look deal with writer-director-producer Podeswa for both features and TV projects.

Podeswa’s most recent pic, “The Five Senses,” unspooled in the Directors Fortnight at Cannes last year, won the award as best Canadian film at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival and scored Podeswa a Canadian Genie Award as best director. “The Five Senses” is set to be launched by Fine Line Features in July.

The deal was negotiated for Alliance Atlantis by Andrea Wood, executive veepee of business and legal affairs, with attorney Jodi Peikoff and agents Mike Lubin and Cassian Elwes of William Morris repping Podeswa.

The company is set to make a wider variety of pics, per McLean.

“We need to broaden the scope of what we’re doing,” said McLean. “The motion-picture production side of the company was overseen by (former Alliance topper) Robert Lantos and, when he left, there was a vacuum created.

“For the first year after the merger, we concentrated on merging the companies and now we’re turning our attention to feature film. We’re trying to be more commercial-minded but still play in the same sandbox. We’re not going to make $50 million action movies and go head-to-head with the studios.”

Alliance Atlantis has several other features in development, including “51st State” with Samuel L. Jackson starring and Ronny Yu directing, and “Marlowe” to be directed by John Maybury (“Love Is the Devil”) and produced by Natural Nylon. The company also has long-term deals with Canuck producer Lantos, Andras Hamori and Roger Frappier.

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