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'Urbania' Gets New American Distributor

By Dana Harris

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - In a move worthy of a white knight, Lions Gate Films has picked up all U.S. rights to Jon Shear's ''Urbania'' as intended distributor Unapix Films Theatrical faces cash flow problems that have forced the company to back away from the acquisition just two weeks before its Sept. 15 release.

``Urbania,'' which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was adapted by Daniel Reitz from his own play ``Urban Folk Tales'' about a gay man's search for redemption and love. The film, which stars Dan Futterman and Josh Hamilton, has won a number of festival awards, including the grand jury award for narrative feature at last month's L.A. Outfest and grand prize at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Unapix Films acquired the film in March and has been working on the film's marketing and publicity campaign throughout the summer. Just last week, however, the company's Unapix Entertainment parent revealed it did not have the funds to put the film into release.

Unapix Films has released one film since launching in March: ''Grass,'' a documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson about the U.S. drug policy on marijuana.

Lions Gate will release the film in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego on Sept. 15 and will expand from there into the top 25 markets and possibly beyond.