Strand lands U.S. rights to ‘Proteus’

Distrib plans summer fest exposure before fall rollout

NEW YORK — Strand Releasing has picked up U.S. rights to maverick Canadian director John Greyson’s period drama “Proteus,” an interracial gay love story set in early 18th century South Africa.

Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall, the film was co-directed and co-written by South African activist filmmaker Jack Lewis, who penned the original story about the injustices suffered by two men as a result of their affair.

The filmmakers draw freely from historical facts connected with an actual criminal case in the tale of a black prisoner, sent in 1725 to a penal colony off coastal Cape Town, who is thrust together with a brooding Dutch sailor to assist in the research project of an English botanist stationed there.

Produced by Steven Markovitz, Anita Lee and Platon Trakoshis, pic recently had its European premiere at the Berlin fest.

Deal was negotiated by Ronna Wallace through her New York-based sales company Eastgate Pictures on behalf of Big World Cinema and Idol Pictures, with co-president Jon Gerrans. Strand is planning to give the film U.S. exposure on the summer fest circuit before going out theatrically in the fall.

The filmmaker is best known for gay-themed arthouse releases such as “Zero Patience” and “Lilies.” He also has directed a number of episodes of “Queer as Folk” for Showtime.

Strand opens French director Patrice Chereau’s “Son Frere” today and will release Mexican drama “A Thousand Clouds of Peace” April 16. Distrib recently acquired Berlin fest Golden Bear winner “Head On,” which will open later this year.

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