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SPC warms to ‘Sunshine’

Pic pits Fla. community against country club set

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to John Sayles’ new pic, “Sunshine State,” currently in production in Amelia, Fla.

Written and directed by Sayles, pic is being produced by Maggie Renzi and stars Jane Alexander, Angela Bassett, Gordon Clapp, Edie Falco, Miguel Ferrer, Timothy Hutton, James McDaniel and Mary Steenburgen.

Movie centers on a group of people concerned with the destruction of tradition and community in Florida. Bassett and Falco play natives of the small Florida town in which the pic is set; they fight against the country club crowd that in the name of progress tries to usurp their town and commercialize it.

“This is the type of pic that only John Sayles and Maggie Renzi could make,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker. “The script is spectacular. The atmosphere where they are filming — Amelia Island, off of the coast of Florida — is the key to the script, just like southwest Texas is to ‘Lone Star.’ ”

Renzi, reached on location in Ginnie Springs, Fla., added: “Sony Pictures Classics’ enthusiasm made us know early on that the project is not only artistically viable but also commercially viable. Tom and Michael are really good at figuring out how to start something small and help it go really wide.”

SPC previously released Sayles’ “Lianna,” “Lone Star” and “Men With Guns.”

For their commitment to releasing films from France in the U.S., SPC co-presidents Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom recently were awarded the French government’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Among Gallic pics the Gotham-based company has released in the States are “Au revoir, les enfants,” “Les Voleurs,” “Indochine,” “The Last Metro” and “Diva.”