France Television Distribution Cinema, the film sales and acquisitions arm of public broadcaster France Television, is to cease its international sales activities in the coming weeks according to sources close to the situation.
France Television Distribution currently has two sales teams, one for TV and one for film. The film team will be significantly cut back.
In all, five people are to be laid off as FTD heads to Berlin and the AFM with no sales executives in tow. Chief executive Michel Lieberman and chief operating officer Jean-Paul Commin are set to attend along with LA-based acquisitions executive Emmanuel Itier.
According to one source, the television team will continue to acquire video and TV rights. The cinema team will continue to acquire films for theatrical release in France.
It is unclear what will happen to FTD Cinema's current sales line-up. The outfit is currently working on films including AFM titles Le Tango Des Rashevski by Sam Garbarski, Aunque Estes Lejos by Juan Carlos Tabio and L'Autre by Benoit Mariage. Francois Dupeyron's Inguelezi is currently in post-production.
Insiders say the company has been in difficulties for over a year and that this week's development reflects the ongoing challenges for companies working in the international sales arena.
In 1998, FTD began its takeover of Jacques-Eric Strauss' President Films with a view to bolstering its catalogue and forging ahead into the sales game and with an eye towards international co-productions.
But, as one industry insider puts it: "You can't create StudioCanal at France Television," referring to the difficulty that a public service company meets when trying to compete with privately run businesses.
FTD did not return calls on Thursday.