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M’max clasps ‘Clips’ to bolster doc slate

Pic focuses on school's project to honor Holocaust victims

Miramax Films has buttressed its docu slate, acquiring worldwide theatrical and homevideo rights to “Paper Clips,” a film about a rural Tennessee middle school class seeking to honor the memory of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Directed by Elliot Berlin and Joe Fab, a senior exec at production shingle the Johnson Group, pic tells how in 1998, a principal at the Whitwell Middle School sought to expose her students to the cultural diversity beyond their largely fundamentalist Christian community, initiating a project to collect a paperclip for each life lost in the Holocaust. The project received such exposure around the world that a German citizen donated an authentic Nazi railcar as a memorial for the schoolyard, filled with 11 million paperclips.

Miramax L.A. prexy Mark Gill said the docu, shot before and after Sept. 11, resonates with the climate of the times. “This is the ultimate cross-cultural wakeup call,” he said. Miramax releases only one or two docus a year, he noted. “Paper Clips,” he said, is “going to hit a nerve at a time when people are looking for something soulful and satisfying in their lives.”

Pic, which was written by Fab, is being produced by Fab, Robert M. Johnson and Ari Daniel Pinchot. Project is a Johnson Group production in association with financing and production shingle Ergo Entertainment. Ergo execs Donny Epstein, Yeeshai Gross and Elie Landau are exec producers.

Epstein brought the project to Miramax, where it was handled by Gill and VP of corporate communications Matthew Hiltzik.

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