In a pre-Berlin move, Focus Features has tapped Sierra/Affinity to serve as the sales agent on select Focus films outside of North America.

The new relationship — which will formally begin with Thursday’s opening of the European Film Market in  Berlin — is aimed at complementing the activities of Universal Pictures International, which distributes Universal and Focus films in the international marketplace.  Essentially, it gives Focus the option of selling off foreign markets for its films rather than distributing the films through UPI.

Focus Features parent Universal Studios had closed down the Focus Features International sales arm at the end of last year, terminating  16 employees.  Universal had launched a restructuring of Focus in early October, replacing James Schamus with Peter Schlessel.

The pact with Sierra/Affinity calles for it to service the existing international licensing and distribution agreements previously made on the Focus’ submarine adventure “Black Sea,” starring Jude Law, and journalism drama “Kill the Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner as Gary Webb.

“Nick and Marc and the outstanding team at Sierra/Affinity have the sales strength, global expertise and creative savvy that make them a perfect partner for Focus Features as we progress into a new era,” said Focus exec Adrian Alperovich.