Stuart Ford has a specific mandate at Los Angeles-based sales company IM Global. 'The primary goal of the business at the moment is to establish ourselves as one of the top-tier US sales agencies,' he says.

'For now we're not focused on producing our own movies or financing movies and we're not affiliated to any domestic distributor. We're trying to be recognised as a go-to safe pair of hands for bigger independent movies.

'That's a space that's been occupied by Summit and Mandate International over the years - and deservedly so. As their businesses evolve in other directions, maybe that's left a bit of room at the top table for our company.'

Ford, former president of First Look International and key Miramax International executive, has taken some swift strides since the company was formed a year ago under the auspices of Intermedia. Late last year, David Bergstein and Ron Tutor's Capco Group took a major stake in the company, although Ford stresses that IM Global will operate separately from Capco's other sales companies, Capitol Films and ThinkFilm International.

The arrangement gives Ford potential new product to add to its existing pipeline from Intermedia and third-party pick-ups.

On sale at Cannes under the IM banner is martial-arts tale Bunraku, which is to star Josh Hartnett, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson and the powerhouse Japanese duo of Gackt Camui and Shun Sugata. Ford and his team of senior vice-president of international sales and distribution Ruzanna Kegeyan and vice-president of international sales and distribution Tim Grohne will also be talking up the Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers thriller Shelter; David O Russell comedy Nailed with Jake Gyllenhaal; and kidnap drama 44 Inch Chest.

IM Global recently hired Showtime executive Catherine Quantschnigg to head a new home-entertainment division and made a splash with the first major acquisition, Paranormal Activity, which premiered at Slamdance.

Last month saw the launch of IM Global Television under Gavin Reardon. 'TV allows us to be at the cutting edge of the wireless and technology marketplace,' Ford says. 'It also gives us direct day-to-day relationships with the VoD and pay-per-view sector, which we know will become more and more central to international distribution.

'Although the company is only 12 months old, it's full of seasoned people with a lot of experience.'