Li Chiyan, one of the founding members of Polybona Film Distribution along with Yu Dong, has left the company to form his own distribution outfit, Bona Culture.

The new company plans to distribute around ten films a year of which eight will be Chinese-language and two will be foreign films distributed on a flat-fee basis. It has already released its first film, E-mail, directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Guangbei, which opened on April 12.

Upcoming releases include Kung Fu Fighter, directed by Douglas Kung and starring Taiwanese actor Vanness Wu and Hong Kong actress Emme Wong.

Established in 1999, Polybona (which was initially also called Bona Culture) was founded as a privately-owned, Beiing-based distributor which released films such as Media Asia's Infernal Affairs III and assisted the promotion of Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl.

In 2003, Bona Culture merged with state-owned Poly Group's Eastern Dragon which took a majority shareholding in the company. It then changed its name to Polybona Film Distribution.

Up to the end of 2006, Polybona had distributed nearly 100 films in the mainland China market and is generally seen as the largest private film distribution company in China.

Bona Culture split with Polybona in early February 2007. According to Li, the split happened because the two companies will have different directions in film distribution, with Bona Culture focusing on small to mid-budget films.

'There are many good local films that deserve better treatment in distribution, especially small to mid-budget films. We want to open up the market for those films,' Li said.

Bona Culture is also stepping into film production. Apart from getting in touch with local filmmakers, the company is in talks about a mid-budget drama with Hong Kong production companies.

Meanwhile, Yu Dong remains CEO of Polybona Film Distribution.