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Founded in 1984 and topped by CEO and co-founder Gil Santos, Ecofilmes is one of Portugal’s leading pic distributors and videogame market leaders, with total revenues hitting $44 million in 2008.

What makes it unique is that Ecofilmes has maintained independent ownership and is the only key player based in the north of the country — which Santos believes generates a special dedication and discipline.

The distrib maintains privileged relationships with global independents such as Mandate, Focus, GK Films, Paramount Vantage, Pathe, TF1, Bavaria and Beta, releasing a balanced mix of U.S. commercial fare and European art films, scoring with such pics as “Gomorrah” and “The Counterfeiters.” Santos recognizes that Portugal remains a very closed market to non-American films, and identifies the main challenges facing the sector as “rampant piracy, lack of purchasing power and competition from the Internet in terms of leisure time.”

Over the next 12 months, Santos plans to start investing in Portuguese films, but considers that local producers need to adopt a new mindset in order to compete in the market.