Two new arthouse distributors have surfaced in Argentina to bring edgier and more ambitious fare to a recovering marketplace.

Luis Perez Endara, who has acquired the rights to United Artists catalogue from MGM leads Compania General de la Imagen (CGI). Perez Endara went into theatrical distribution in 2000 with Darren Aronofsky's Pi and the restored classic, Touch Of Evil directed by Orson Welles.

He was forced to stop operations when Argentina's financial crisis hit. In the interim he headed Buenos Aires' contemporary art museum, MALBA where he continues to serves as a consultant. With the relaunch of CGI, Perez Endara hopes to maximise his earnings by using the same p & a materials for releases in Argentina and the neighbouring countries of Chile and Uruguay.

"I hope to break even in Argentina and skim off profits from the other two countries, " he said. CGI's slate includes Igby Goes Down, 24 Hour Party People, Nicholas Nickleby and Personal Velocity. Perez Endara also plans to distribute Argentinian films which enjoy enormous support from local moviegoers.

The second company, CDI Films, is a joint acquisitions venture with Mexican counterpart Quality Films.

CDI principals Beto Gold and Carlos Harwicz have been involved in theatrical distribution since 1990. They will bring in mainly European films led by Spanish supernatural thriller Oscuridad by Jaume Balaguero, Italy's The Best Day Of My Life by Cristina Comencini, documentary Promises and Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters.

Films from Europe are popular in Argentina where the bulk of the population are descendants of the old continent.

While Argentinian economy is not out of the woods yet, the peso has remained stable.

Both companies are also up against the high cost of processing prints in Argentina which remains pegged to the dollar. The peso has plunged to a third of its former value. " A good selection of films is key to survival," said Harwicz.