Two Spanish heavyweights - distributor/exhibitor Lauren Films and film and TV producer Cartel - have signed a multi-year production and distribution accord.

The new alliance, published in local newspaper La Gaceta de los Negocios, will see Lauren distribute all Cartel titles theatrically and on video, with an option to co-produce future Cartel projects through 2003.

For Lauren, the Spanish distributor for Miramax and a partner in the country's largest exhibition chain, the deal represents a definitive return to production after more than a decade-long absence. Lauren chief Antonio Llorens recently began producing feature films again, but slowly, with just one or two projects per year.

Cartel is one of Spain's most active feature film co-producers, including participation in titles like Fernando Trueba's The Girl Of Your Dreams (La Nina De Tus Ojos), box office hit Torrente, The Dumb Arm Of The Law (Torrente, El Brazo Tonto De La Ley) and Agustin Diaz-Yanes' forthcoming No News From God (Sin Noticias De Dios) starring Penelope Cruz.