Former London Film Festival head Sheila Whitaker is launching UK distributor Metropolis Films.

The venture is to handle world cinema, releasing most titles on video but with some theatrical outings. Whitaker is attending Berlin with her partner in the company, Andy Ordonez, formerly of Japanese financing house NDF.

Ordonez said the company is looking for films that "have some commercial opportunity" such as a known director or festival kudos.

UK support body the Film Council recently unveiled plans for an annual p&a fund for specialist films in a bid to boost the range of films on offer in the notoriously tough UK market.

The UK has traditionally been one of the toughest to crack for foreign-language films. But the climate may be changing. In the year since the release of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon a number of pictures including Amelie, Amores Perros and The Devil's Backbone have all crossed over to achieve commercial success.