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MK2 Mile End, the Quebec-based distribution outfit launched by French film studio MK2 and industry veteran Charles Tremblay, is set to expand into the English-Canadian market with key appointments.

The company, which debuted in 2017 and is headed by Tremblay, has tapped well-established industry professionals Stephanie Azam from Telefilm Canada and Lainie Elton at Level Film to spearhead this strategic expansion.

Azam takes on the newly created role of vice-president of development and acquisitions, and Elton as vice-president of licensing and digital strategy, with both headquartered in Toronto.

Azam recently stepped down from Telefilm Canada. She previously worked at Zeitgeist Films in New York as head of theatrical marketing.

Elton has over 20 years of experience in the North American film distribution scene, most recently at Level Film and previously at Alliance Films and Entertainment One.

“These appointments, particularly after the challenges of our industry over the past 18 months, signal an important moment for us and I’m very optimistic about the growth of our business,” said Tremblay.

The executive said that from the beginning, MK2 Mile End’s goal was to be a true pan-Canadian distributor. “In my mind, this will be achieved when the share of our revenues coming from English Canada will reflect its share of the Canadian market, i.e. over 75%,” said Tremblay.

“In order to get to that point, it is essential that we have senior leadership in English Canada. The addition of experienced and gifted executives like Stephanie and Lainie is a big step in that direction,” added Tremblay, noting that the Canadian landscape has “two very distinct markets.”

The executive highlights that the biggest challenge of the Canadian distribution landscape is that it’s part of the U.S. “domestic” market. “With that reality comes the difficulty sometimes to acquire films, since some sellers tend to sell North American rights to their films; still, we have managed to put together a strong line-up and I’m confident that we will keep on bringing some of the best independent films to Canadian audiences for years to come,” said Tremblay.

The company strives to have a director-driven approach, reminiscent of what MK2 has achieved in France. “It’s important for us to be a home for Canadian creators and an alternative to the established players,” said Tremblay.

Azam said she is looking forward to “cultivating domestic and international partnerships and continuing to develop and deepen the company’s excellent relationships within the industry.”

Elton, meanwhile, noted that MK2 Mile End has built “a solid reputation for bringing some of the best films in recent years to Canadian audiences” and she will look to expand the banner’s reach and “bring more stories to movie lovers across the country.”

MK2 Mile End, whose biggest Canadian releases include “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning “Parasite,” is currently at Toronto with “Official Competition” with Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. The company’s current roster also includes “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” with Benedict Cumberbatch, who is receiving the TIFF Tribute Award.

MK2 Mike End will also be handling the Canadian release of Sébastien Pilote’s “Maria Chapdelaine;” Laurent Cantet’s “Arthur Rambo;” and Joachim Trier’s “Worst Person in the World.” The banner also picked up Canadian distribution rights to “Call Jane” by Phyllis Nagy and “Crimes of The Future” by David Cronenberg, both of which are in production. The outfit also picked up prestige auteur films, including Jacques Audiard’s “Paris, 13th District,” which competed at Cannes.