EXCLUSIVE: In what amounts to the first significant acquisitions deal for a 2011 Sundance Film Festival pic, Roadside Attractions has bought U.S. theatrical rights to The Music Never Stopped, which makes its debut on the fest’s opening night. The film’s based on the case-study essay The Last Hippie, which was written by Dr . Oliver Sacks. Another of the doc’s case studies became the basis for the film Awakenings, the 1990 film that starred Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.

Directed by Jim Kohlberg, The Music Never Stopped stars Juno‘s JK Simmons, Lou Taylor Pucci, An Education‘s Cara Seymour and Julia Ormond. Script was written by Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks. Simmons plays a father who is trying to adjust to the cerebral trauma suffered by his estranged son (Pucci). Though the father is haunted by the missed opportunities with his son he fears he’ll never get back, things change when a music therapist recommends a steady dose of the films that informed the son’s soul. The youth loved counterculture 60s rock and roll and especially the meditative jams of The Grateful Dead. The father forms an emotionally vibrant bond with the son he feared he’d lost.

“We were really moved by such a soulful, true story of a father and son changing their lives through their love of music,” Roadside co-president Howard Cohen said in a statement. “And you can’t beat The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash music in this film.”

Peter Newman, Greg Johnson and attorney Jonathan Gray brokered the deal with Roadside’s Cohen and attorney Greg Bernstein. Roadside has had good luck at Sundance, plucking the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove in 2009, and acquiring current award’s contender Winter’s Bone at the 2010 festival.