Prague-based production houses Sirena and Simply Cinema have announced a merger, with the new firm looking to capitalise on a French-Czech ownership, pursuing Czech-made co-productions for a pan-European audience.

Simply Cinema, founded in 1993 by Czech producer Jaroslav Boucek, who produces films from acclaimed director Vladimir Michalek (Autumn Spring, Angel Exit), and French-owned Sirena, led by French producer and director Artemio Benki (Harrison's Flowers, Praha Ocima), have combined their operations to form a new entity called Simply Sirena.

"We are interested in focusing on productions that are able to be broadcast on a European level," says Simply Cinema co-owner Krystof Safr.

Although the Czech Republic offers no incentives for film producers, films shot here with a French connection have the advantage that they may qualify for both French and European subsidies. France is one of only three countries with which the Czech Republic has signed a bi-lateral co-production treaty.

The merged entity will also enjoy synergies with Czech distributor ArtCam, a French-owned sister company of Sirena and the distributor in the Czech Republic of titles such as Dancer In The Dark, Amores Perros and Buena Vista Social Club.

"We would like to do service production for movies, and then offer to distribute them later when they come back to Czech Republic," says Safr.