SXSW: Magnolia Inhales 'Square Grouper' Doc

Billy Corben's documentary about the pot smuggling scene in 1970's South Florida will have its world premiere at SXSW.

By Jay A. Fernandez, Hollywood Reporter

Teaching Seniors the Benefits of Medical Marijuana Magnolia Pictures has picked up worldwide rights to Billy Corben's documentary Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja.

The indie distributor plans a 2011 release that will include a 40-city college tour, a screening at the High Times Medicinal Cannabis Cup in Denver, Co. on April 1 and preview screenings promoted by High Times and NORML.

The acquisition is the second poached from the forthcoming SXSW Film Festival lineup. New Video grabbed rights to competition film Fly Away last week. Both movies will have their world premieres at the Austin-based fest in mid-March.

Square Grouper looks into the pot smuggling scene in 1970s South Florida and its major players: the smuggling Black Tuna Gang, the pot dealing Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church and the tiny fishing village Everglades City. Corben and his producer Alfred Spellman of rakontur are also the filmmakers behind Cocaine Cowboys.

“Billy and Alfred have struck gold again with Square Grouper," said Magnolia's Tom Quinn, who negotiated the deal with Spellman. "They are consistently making some of the most entertaining docs of anyone working today. Fans of Cocaine Cowboys and The U are going to love Square Grouper.”

The first of a first-look deal between rakontur and Magnolia, the film will be brought to the European Film Market in Berlin this week by Magnolia International.

A Wagner/Cuban Company division, Magnolia recently released Casino Jack and All Good Things. The company picked up the documentary Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times and the dark drama I Melt With You at the Sundance Film Festival.