Distribs bow alliance, stake out Celluloid
MILAN — Eight European arthouse distribs from six countries have formed an acquisition and production alliance by taking a majority stake in Paris-based sales company Celluloid Dreams.
The consortium includes Haut et Court from France; A-Film, the Netherlands; Cinelibre/Cineart, Belgium; Frenetic Films, Switzerland; Lucky Red and BIM, Italy; and Golem and Alta Films, Spain.
The deal, sealed Monday night, was initiated by Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams, who retains a minority stake in the company.
Celluloid Dreams will continue to operate as an indie sales agent, free to pick up whatever films it chooses and with no obligation to sell them to its new shareholders.
However, the sales company will also act as a vehicle through which its shareholder-distribs can co-develop and co-finance arthouse projects.
With two companies involved in both Spain and Italy, it is not anticipated that all the distribs will participate in every project.
“We will seek out the sort of directors we want to follow, and help to build their careers,” said San Fu Maltha of A-Film. “Some of the partners have already done that for many years — with Ken Loach, for example.”
He said the alliance will tackle anything from pics by first-time directors up to crossover films as big as “The English Patient.”
The consortium is also seeking co-financing relationships with U.S. specialized distribs. One candidate is Fine Line, whose execs met with Celluloid Dreams at the Mifed mart to discuss collaboration.
Maltha acknowledged that pan-European buying alliances have a habit of falling apart as partners are unable to agree on which projects to buy or produce. For this reason, Panahi has been given considerable autonomy to strike deals without asking for shareholder approval.
“Hengameh can decide for herself up to a certain amount of money. Instead of binding ourselves to a complicated decision-making process, we are just going to do some projects,” Maltha commented.