Former Newmarket Films partner Bob Berney now heads a new, still unnamed, U.S. distribution company co-owned by HBO and New Line. Famous for spinning B.O. gold out of such films as “Whale Rider” and “The Passion of the Christ,” Berney, who will remain based in New York, says he’ll be looking at every opportunity in terms of potential pickups. “I really want to be flexible and open to any kind of films, but I also want to do the stuff that’s not obvious. That’s worked for me in the past.”

Cannes 2004 pickups: “Last year I was with Newmarket Films and we did not buy anything at Cannes.”

Wish list: “First and foremost I am looking to introduce the new company to the industry in terms of scope, our upcoming slate and key executives; second, to look at films in all sections of the festival and market for acquisitions. Nothing will go unseen.”

Market health: “With strong equity players, healthy exhibition and a vital DVD market, the marketplace is quite strong. Audiences want good films and tend to categorize them less. The fact that these ‘indie’ films are recognized by the industry as a business at all is in itself a testament to the success of this sector in the last five years.”

Fave Cannes screen: “I love the Palais for overall presentation. But I also enjoy going to theaters like the Olympia or others on the Rue d’Antibes. After the long flight, it’s nice to catch up on some sleep during the first few films.”

Regrets: “Motorcycle Diaries”; Berney adds, “I saw ‘Police Beat’ at Sundance and really liked it. It’s really a poetic, beautiful film that deserves to reach an audience.”