Along with the crop of new films at this year's Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous, there will also be a debut sales company in town.

Eva Diederix and Adeline Fontan Tessaur have taken up residence at Stephane Celerier's Mars Distribution and, with an outside investment fund, are launching international sales outfit Elle Driver.

The moniker is a wink to the character created by Quentin Tarantino, and played by Daryl Hannah in the Kill Bill films. It symbolises the attitude with which Diederix and Fontan Tessaur plan to imbue the company.

Both women are veterans of the European sales business who say they were looking for a name that would indicate class with an edge. "We're looking for quality films that can travel. We're open to everything, all types and all budgets," says Diederix. They plan to employ two further staff members in the coming weeks.

Diederix most recently worked at UGC in international sales and also enjoyed a five-year stint at Sogepaq International in Spain. Fontan Tessaur, meanwhile, has been at TF1 International for several years and will not officially leave that post until the end of January.

Mars Distribution and Elle Driver will have a first-look deal on the other's films. If the fit is right, they will work jointly on certain projects. Mars may also be more involved financially in Elle Driver in the near future.

Initial financing for the new company is coming from an acquisition fund raised overseas (Elle Driver refused to reveal further details). The fund will be managed by Diederix and Fontan Tessaur.

Thanks to a long-standing working relationship between Mars' Celerier and French sales, distribution and finance outfit Wild Bunch, the latter is acting as a 'godfather' to the new company, helping it with some overhead costs. Further, Wild Bunch may propose films to Elle Driver, but Diederix and Fontan Tessaur will retain editorial authority.

Elle Driver plans to work with around 15 films a year and is gearing up to be totally operational with a slate of five films for next month's European Film Market.

In a fitting title twist, for the Unifrance Rendez-Vous, Diederix will commence sales on a first feature from Fred Cavaye, Pour Elle. The film will star Vincent Lindon, Diane Kruger and is being produced by Fidelite. Mars is handling French distribution.

Heavyweight partners such as Mars and Wild Bunch are big shoulders to lean on for a burgeoning outfit. But in such a crowded sales field, why do Diederix and Fontan Tessaur believe they can succeed'

"There are so many films, especially internationally, that there is still room for this company," says Fontan Tessaur.

Diederix adds: "We both come from big structures, we're young and we're super-enthusiastic. It's a new elan and it will be great to work with all of these partners."

[s19] See Paris Screenings, p18.