Larry Meistrich's first-runDVD distribution outfit Film Movement is expanding into the Canadian market,offering its monthly subscription-based service to film buffs north of theborder. Launched in May 2002 by the former Shooting Gallery executive, the NewYork-based company has created a niche for art house and specialty titles thatmight otherwise be passed over by distributors, acquiring rights to films andsending its members an exclusive DVD title each month - a disk they get tokeep.

Meistrich told ScreenDailythat the company had been planning a move into Canada for some time. "We'vejust been waiting to increase the number of titles for which we have NorthAmerican rights for it to make sense."

Meistrich hopes Canada's lowpopulation density will be a good fit for Film Movement's business strategy oftapping film fans in areas underserved by independent distributors. SaysMeistrich, "I don't think of our subscribers as independent filmgoers - if thatmeans anything anymore. Our audience is anyone who owns a DVD player."

Film Movement holds NorthAmerican rights on 11 of the 14 titles released in the US since its launch,including Eric Eason's Sundance prize winner Manito, political documentary The Party's Over, narrated by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and OT: ourtown, which was recently nominatedfor an IFP Independent Spirit Award. While Film Movement normally tries toacquire North American rights for titles, it so happens that two of those 14releases are Canadian films - Wiebke von Carolsfeld's Marion Bridge and Mina Shum's Long Life, Happiness andProsperity - for which itholds US rights only.

The company engages inlimited marketing-oriented theatrical releasing, generally in New York, andplans to launch a promotional theatrical series in March or April this year inToronto, Montreal and Vancouver and Edmonton. "The best way for us to marketourselves is to trail publicity," says Meistrich.

Film Movement subscribersinteract through the company's website, which has been recently revamped toallow users to email cast and crew, access film clips and organize discussionclubs. Meistrich would not disclose the size of his subscriber base, referringinstead to the fact that he has subscribers in 1,800 cities throughout the USand its territories.

Film Movement will not bethe first new-release direct mail DVD film service to operate in Canada. Thathonour goes to MicroFilms, a Toronto-based service launched in September 2003which has released three titles to date, including documentary Horns AndHalos and Australian thriller TheBank.