‘My Old School’: Magnolia Pictures Picks Up Sundance Documentary Featuring Alan Cumming

EXCLUSIVE: The Jono McLeod-directed documentary My Old School, which made its world premiere at this year’s virtual Sundance Film Festival, has landed at Magnolia Pictures. The specialty cinema label has taken North American rights to the docu, which features Alan Cumming. A July 22 theatrical release has been set.

My Old School unravels the astonishing true story of a mysterious new student who may not be who his Scottish classmates and teachers believe.

Magnolia Pictures

In 1993, 16-year-old Brandon Lee enrolled at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in a well-to-do suburb of Glasgow. What followed over the next two years would become the stuff of legend. Brandon had been privately tutored in Canada while he accompanied his mother, an opera diva, on tour before her tragic death. The preternaturally bright student surprised teachers by blazing toward his goal of entering medical school, displaying a wealth of knowledge beyond his years. Brandon found friends despite his initial awkwardness, taking bullied students under his wing, introducing classmates to seminal retro bands, and even starring in the school’s production of South Pacific. But then his unbelievable secret was revealed.

McLeod returns to his old school for a nostalgic look at the strange but true story of his former classmate. The story is told through playful, period-specific animation, a riveting soundtrack, the memories of students and teachers, and Cumming.

“Both warmly engaging and mind-scrambling, My Old School is a course everyone will want to take,” said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles. “The tone and substance are a breath of fresh air.”

“Even though it’s a documentary, I’ve always seen My Old School as a classic high school movie, so announcing our partnership with Magnolia Pictures to bring the film to a North American audience feels like we’re graduating with honors. I’d throw my cap in the air if I had one,” said McLeod.

Said producers Olivia Lichtenstein and John Archer: “We’re delighted to be working with Magnolia to bring this film to U.S. audiences. This is a story that will remind you of your school days; an unforgettable tale told with warmth, verve and originality by Class 5C, who lived through this extraordinary deception and have never forgotten it. And now, neither will you!”

Mark Thomas from Creative Scotland said: “We are delighted that Magnolia Pictures has acquired Jono MacLeod’s debut feature documentary My Old School. We are sure that this stranger-than-fiction film will continue to delight and entertain audiences in the U.S. as it has at its Sundance premiere and UK and European festivals.”

The documentary is a Hopscotch Films production with co-funding from Creative Scotland. Clare Grogan and Lulu also star. EPs are Mark Thomas, McLeod, Archer and Clara Glynn.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and SVP Acquisitions John Von Thaden, with Cleo Veger and Ana Vicente of Dogwoof on behalf of the filmmakers.

In the summer of 2018, Magnolia had the documentary specialty box office hit RBG, which grossed over $14 million and was nominated for two Oscars.

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‘My Old School’: Magnolia Pictures Picks Up Sundance Documentary Featuring Alan Cumming

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