Deal marks attempt to crack local-language market

In a landmark deal, Fortissimo Films has teamed with Fox Intl. Prods. to handle sales on a number of local FIP productions in a majority of territories.

Deal is the next evolution in Hollywood’s efforts to crack the local-language market in foreign countries.

Although the studio has a well-oiled international distribution network, Fox offices in local territories are often focused on releasing the studio’s bigger pics. Selling rights to territory distributors can help raise financing for a production, as well as ensuring that local product gets the best marketing and release.

The first two titles under the agreement are the Italian mobster pic “Vallanzsca,” which Fortissimo will handle outside Italy, France, Germany and Scandinavia; and Russian pic “Alien Girl,” which it will handle in all territories except Russia. Fox Intl. Prods. prexy Sanford Panitch has high hopes for both films.

The multi-picture relationship fuses the independent sales agent with a major U.S. studio. Panitch and Fortissimo chairman Michael J. Werner inked the pact, which is sure to be dissected at Cannes.

“Fortissimo’s success in matching local distributors with independent films and Michael’s own familiarity with the kind of studio-level pictures we are developing and producing makes this a perfect fit for both parties, and will prove an incredible benefit to the filmmakers and projects involved,” Panitch said.

Werner added that this would bring “more commercial” local-language films to the Fortissimo slate.

“This deal provides a great combination of experiences, resources and opportunity,” said Werner. “They involve great local producers and great local talent and Fox has a great international distribution effort.”

Vallanzasca,” directed by Michele Placido, boasts an international cast set to include Italy’s Kim Rossi Stuart, Spain’s Paz Vega and Germany’s Moritz Bleibtreu. It is the first Italian-language project ushered through FIP and follows the story of notorious Italian criminal Renato Vallanzasca.

Russian-language “Alien Girl,” based on the novel of the same name from cult author Vladimir “Adolfovich” Nesterenko, is directed by Anton Barmatov. Story follows a Russian underworld figure who sends four hitmen to pick up a Czech woman in hiding, only to have her play them off against each other at the end.

Fortissimo Films has a slew of titles at the market this year, including Ukranian competition title “My Joy” and Singapore’s “Sandcastle,” screening in Critic’s Week.

Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.

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