PARIS–  Cannes’ Critics Week, the sidebar dedicated to first and second films, is joining forces with Fondation Gan to launch a new fund for French distributors.

The fund of 20,000 Euros ($27,700) will be awarded to the Gallic distributor of one of the seven films playing in competition at Critics’ Week.

“In today’s complicated arthouse distribution landscape, the type of auteur cinema which we showcase at Critics’ Week needs extra help to exist outside of the festival circuit, find its way into theaters and connect with audiences,” said Critics’ Week programme manager Remi Bonhomme, who works alongside artistic topper Charles Tesson.

“The film will be chosen independently by the Fondation Gan — as a result it may or may not be the same film that wins the Grand Jury, Revelation or SACD prizes,” pointed out Bonhomme.

“Critics’ Week was created to discover new talents and our goal with this fund is to expand this endeavor,” added Bonhomme.

Indeed, the cash prize will be given to the distributor to help him/her orchestrate a more innovative, larger-scale marketing campaign for the film’s release.

The Fondation Gan was created 25 years ago by Groupama Gan, a French banking and insurance group, in order to support cinema via grants and restorations of classics.

It’s not the first initiative developed by Critics’ Week either. Since 2011, the Cannes sidebar has been backing the theatrical release of films from its selection in a dozen emerging film markets, including Mexico, Brazil, Lebanon, Peru, South Korea and Georgia.

“We’ve been working with sales agents, distributors and exhibitors in these markets to create an event around the film releases and put forward the Critics’ Week label,” explained Bonhomme.

And in the last few years, Critics’ Week has proved to be a great launchpad for smaller films from emerging filmmakers that have a mainstream potential.

Bonhomme cited  “The Lunchbox,” Ritesh Batra’s romantic comedy, Jeff Nichols’s psychological thriller “Take Shelter,” Katell Quillevere’s drama “Suzanne,” Eva Ionesco’s “My Little Princess” and Valerie Donzelli’s “Declaration of War” as recent Critics’ Week’s highlights.

Critics’ Week lineup will be unveiled on April 21. The 53rd edition runs May 15-23.