The European Film Academy and its primary event, the Felix Awards, have gained backers from both sides of the Atlantic: Signing on as EFA’s first patrons are Canal Plus, Polygram Films Intl., AB Svensk Filmindustri, Sogepaq, Granada Film and Nordisk Film A/S, as well as Universal Pictures and Disney’s Buena Vista Intl.

In Cannes, EFA chairman Nik Powell told Variety, “The big breakthrough is that the EFA has, up until now, been supported by state funds. This means that European and American film companies are providing the financial and moral support that is important in building the EFA and the Felix Awards into a major event and marketing tool.”

The announcement comes after the privatization of the EFA got under way with the recent signing of Dennis Davidson Associates as strategic management consultants and Felix Awards show producers.

Fox Lorber Associates has established a U.S. theatrical distribution unit that will release four to six arthouse and classic reissue films each year.

These pics will eventually be released by the company’s homevideo label, said president Richard Lorber.

Tom Hyland has been appointed manager of U.S. theatrical distribution, Lorber said.

Fox Lorber has acquired all U.S. rights to John O’Hagen’s “Wonderland,” a docu about the prefabricated U.S. suburb Levittown, N.Y., that screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Also scheduled for release this year is “Chappaqua,” an exploration of the beat generation featuring Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Robert Frank; a reissue of the Academy Award-winning “Z” by Costa-Gavras; and “The Emperor’s Shadow,” the new film by Zhou Xiaowen, the Chinese director of “Ermo,” with a script by “Farewell My Concubine” writer Lu Wei.

The Canadian-Irish co-production “This Is My Father” will mark the first pic to feature three Quinn brothers working together, with Aidan Quinn starring, brother Declan lensing and youngest brother Paul directing and handling scriptwriting duties. The romantic tale also toplines James Caan, John Cusack and Irish thesp Stephen Rea.

MDP Worldwide has just acquired all world rights, with Montreal-based producer Filmline Intl. retaining rights to the pic for North America. The film begins lensing in June in Montreal and then moves over to Dublin for the rest of the shoot. The film pairs Filmline with the Irish companies Hummingbird and Merlin, the latter co-owned by director John Boorman.

Paul Quinn, who is making his feature directing debut, is a legit director who has worked extensively in Ireland. Declan Quinn is best known for his camerawork on “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Kama Sutra.”

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