Robert Beeson and Pam Engel have launched a new UK distribution company called New Wave Films. The London-based outfit is planning to release films theatrically while also setting up a label for 'classic' DVDs.

Here at the EFM, New Wave has already made its first acquisition, picking up UK rights to The Silence Of Lorna, the new feature from double Palme D'Or winners, The Dardenne brothers. The film, sold internationally by Celluloid Dreams, will be ready for Cannes. It will be released in the UK in the autumn.

In pre-buying The Silence Of Lorna, Beeson and Engel re-establish a relationship with the Dardennes which stretches back to their time at Artificial Eye, the UK arthouse distributor which they ran for many years prior to their abrupt departure late last year. All of the Dardennes' previous releases in the UK were handled by Artificial Eye

Sellers of upscale, arthouse fare are bound to welcome the return of Beeson and Engel with a new company. During his time at Artificial Eye, Beeson showed an uncanny knack for pre-buying major festival winners. His pick-ups in the latter part of his time at Artificial Eye included 4 Months, 3Weeks And 2 Days, Michael Haneke's Hidden and The Beat That My Heart Skipped.

New Wave will be setting up in a UK market in which there are many small, independent distributors handling arthouse fare and in which access to screens, especially in prime sites in London, is becoming harder to guarantee. Nonetheless, Beeson and Engel have a proven eye for spotting new talent as well as strong relationships with many established directors.

The new company is expected to release two or three films in its first year.

'To get the Dardennes was a deliberate choice because we had all their films since the beginning,' Beeson commented yesterday. He described the pre-buy of the new Dardennes film as 'a chance to plant our flag where we have always been.' Beeson added that New Wave will be looking to acquire fare from 'higher-profile directors in festival term rather than picking up small movies.