Rockers, hoops on way


Iraqi headbangers could go up against Jewish basketballers on theater screens this year.

Arts Alliance America picked up all North American and U.K. rights to "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," a portrait of Muslim rockers in war-torn Iraq and one of the most talked-about docus at September's Toronto International Film Festival.

Separately, Laemmle/Zeller Films has acquired all North American rights to "The First Basket."

"Baghdad" follows Acrassicauda, an Iraqi heavy metal band whose young members have struggled to survive, both as a band and as residents of Baghdad, since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The film was directed by Eddy Morretti, VBS.TV & Vice Films head, and Suroosh Alvi, founder of Vice Magazine. It's set to hit theaters in spring, followed by a DVD release.

"Basket" examines basketball's impact on Jewish culture since the early 20th century and its role in Jewish assimilation. The docu also highlights the Jewish professionals of the sport, including Red Auerbach and Ossie Schectman. Producer and director David Vyorst's docu, narrated by Peter Riegert, is due in theaters at the beginning of basketball season in October.

The "Baghdad" deal was negotiated by Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment on behalf of VBS.TV and Arts Alliance president Joe Amodei. The "Basket" deal was negotiated with the producers by Laemmle/Zeller principals Greg Laemmle and Steven Zeller.