Fest pacts with EchoStar on TV deal

EchoStar Communications has entered into an agreement to run a selection of films from the upcoming Montreal World Film Festival on its Dish Network.

Producers entering films in the Aug. 24-Sept. 4 fest will have the option of making them available for TV in the fall. Montreal typically unspools about 250 features, the vast majority of them international titles in addition to a strong Canadian lineup; arrangement will provide many foreign filmmakers with their first opportunity to receive significant Stateside exposure for their work. The Dish Network has more than 12.2 million satellite TV customers.

Some fests, such as Sundance, have recently put a limited number of their films, mostly shorts, online, but the EchoStar agreement reps by far the most significant influx of up-to-the-minute fest fare into the home market.

Montreal fest topper Serge Losique, who said that films from market screenings also would be eligible, stressed that the plan will bring a far wider sampling of current foreign titles to a large American audience than has ever been feasible before. He underlined the value for filmmakers in having their work “go on living beyond the 12 days of the festival.”

EchoStar senior VP of programming Eric Sahl envisions presenting the festival offerings year-round after the initial showings.

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