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MONTREAL — Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution has acquired worldwide rights to family pic “Virginia’s Run,” starring Gabriel Byrne and Joanne Whalley.

Pic, directed by Peter Markle (“Bat 21”), begins lensing today on location in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. Valarie Trapp, David Henry Lucas and Markle wrote the script. Leif Bristow and Robert Schwartz of Toronto-based Knightscove Entertainment produce.

Pic is the tale of a young girl and her horse, and how the girl learns some important life lessons when she tries to fulfill her dream of winning the Memorial Day Endurance Race.

Crowd pleaser

” ‘Virginia’ has the intensity of ‘The Karate Kid’ and ‘Iron Will,’ and will have audiences cheering at the end,” said Bristow, prexy of Knightscove.

Byrne, whose credits include “The Usual Suspects” and “The Man in the Iron Mask,” will next appear onscreen in “When Brendan Met Trudy.” Whalley starred in “Shattered,” “Storyville” and “A Good Man in Africa.”

Bristow and Schwartz are partners in Knightscove, which specializes in the production of family pics and TV series.

Other Alliance Atlantis pics in production include “Owning Mahowny,” starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Minnie Driver and John Hurt, and directed by Richard Kwietniowski, and “Double Down,” directed by Neil Jordan and toplining Nick Nolte.