Company launches this week at Kinotavr Open Russian Film Festival.

Producer Alexander Rodnyansky is expanding his presence in the CIS market through the launch of a theatrical distribution arm A Company Distribution by his majority-owned German company A Company Consulting & Licensing AG.

The new player, which was being officially launched this week at the Kinotavr Open Russian Film Festival (June 3-10), also owned by Rodnyansky’s AR Films, will distribute major independent feature films, alongside commercial European and Russian productions, and has entered into a two-year sales and distribution cooperation arrangement with Twentieth Century Fox CIS.

“Setting up our own distribution arm in Russia is an integral part of the company’s expansion strategy in the region, after acquiring Budapest Film in Hungary three years ago and last year establishing our own operation in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (EEAP CZ-SK),“ A Company CEO Alexander van Dülmen explained. “Having our own set-up in the fifth largest theatrical market in the world enables us to better maximize the potential of our content, to control our own destiny and tailor the marketing to suit the specific tastes of this vast territory, and ultimately, to participate in the significant upside we see in the CIS. Working with 20th Century Fox, under the leadership of Vadim Smirnoff, we secure an outstanding sales team with a formidable presence in the market that will be of enormous benefit to us both.”

The release lineup for the new player, which will be headed by Natalia Snigireva (General Manager), and Natasha Zlotnikova (Head of Distribution and Marketing), includes the big budget adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer - co-produced by A Company’s production arm -, Til Schweiger’s action thriller Guardians, the fantasy adventure I Frankenstein, Renny Harlin’s Dyatlov Pass, Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, Rodnyansky’s production of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the Cameron Diaz and Benicio Del Toro-starrer Agent Century 21, the Keira Knightley starring Can A Song Save Your Life, and The Coup with Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan.

AR Films, who took a 51% stake in A Company Consulting & Licensing AG last year, has already owned Russia’s leading arthouse distributor Cinema Without Borders (Kino Bez Granits) since 2010.

Meanwhile, this year’s Kinotavr opened on Sunday evening in the Black Sea resort of Sochi with Boris Khlebnikov’s real satirical comedy Till Night Do Us Part. A special award was presented to the veteran Russian director Karen Shakhnazarov for his contribution to the development of Russian cinema to tie-in with the staging of a retrospective showing some of his earlier films that have been rarely seen.

The main competition of new Russian films includes  Vasiliy Sigarev’s second feature Living (Zhit), Avdotya Smirnova’s Kokoko, Nurbek Egen’s The Empty Home, Dmitriy Fiks’ White Moor and Dop-director Pavel Kostomarov and Alexander Rastorguyev’s I Don’t Love You.

Meanwhile, an innovation for this year’s Pitching was the introduction of two cash prizes and the organisation of one-to-one meetings for the selected projects after the public pitching.