Duo fight over Tartan assets

Palisades, Media Asia clash over rival claims

A tussle for the assets of the now-defunct U.K. distrib Tartan Films is under way in the U.K and U.S.

Vincent “Vin” Roberti, chairman- CEO of U.S. firm Palisades Media, however, said he intends to rebuild Tartan as a serious indie distrib and that disputes can be quickly resolved.

In the early years of the decade, U.K.-based Tartan was one of the leading distributors of Asian movies in Europe and created the Tartan Asia Extreme video label. It set up Tartan USA in 2002. Palisades acquired Tartan USA in a foreclosure process in May (Daily Variety, May 20).

Roberti has now challenged the assertion by leading Hong Kong production and international sales group Media Asia that Media Asia had retrieved rights to seven films, including the “Infernal Affairs” trio (Daily Variety, July 28).

“None of (Palisades Tartan U.K.)’s production/distribution and sales agent clients have retrieved the rights to their titles held by the former Tartan Films Distribution Ltd. and Tartan Films Ltd. companies. We will defend our rights to any and all films within the present catalog very aggressively and to the letter of the law,” Roberti said in a statement Tuesday.

On Friday, Media Asia issued a public notice saying that as of July 4 it had terminated all license agreements with Tartan Films USA and Tartan Films Distribution and that the rights had reverted to Media Asia or its U.K. subsidiary Ballcrown. “Any purported assignment or license by Tartan Group in relation to the MA/Ballcrown Films is unauthorized and invalid, and exploitation of such rights will be infringement of MA or Ballcrown’s copyright,” it said.

The Roberti statement said Palisades acquired the movie rights from the administrator (a court-appointed vehicle that operates or dismantles insolvent companies) of Tartan Films and Tartan Video. He said that further rights were secured as part of “another company Palisades acquired from (Tartan founder) Hamish McAlpine that wasn’t part of the administrator package.”

Roberti said Palisades intends to create a trans-Atlantic distribution business from the ashes of Tartan. “We are already distributing in the U.S. The same thing is going to happen here.”

He said that a staff recruitment program is already under way and that the company has already acquired rights to some 600 movies.

Roberti, who said that he had not spoken to Media Asia but heard that it has a good reputation, said: “I think we have a misunderstanding here. The good news for (Media Asia) is that their collateral is in very good hands. We are a very transparent company.”

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