Sichler to head Rotana Films

French exec in charge of Arab pic division

Saudi prince Al Waleed bin Talal has tapped former StudioCanal managing director Frederic Sichler as president of Rotana Films, a division of media titan Rotana, one of the Arab world’s largest broadcasters, producers and distributors of film and music.

Sichler, who will be based in Cairo, started Monday. He will oversee Rotana’s Arabic-language film production and guide its expansion into an international film operation.

Sichler is credited with playing a key part in the turnaround in StudioCanal’s fortunes during his four-year tenure. He arranged an international library distribution partnership with Universal; the distribution of StudioCanal’s library in the U.S. by Lionsgate; and the 2006 acquisition of British distrib Optimum, which accounts for more than 10% of the company’s revenues.

Rotana has a slate of 17 Arabic-language pics, a combination of co-productions, acquisitions and independently financed features, which it will release in the coming year. Plans for a debut English-language feature are being studied.