Swiss distributors Columbus Film and Vega Distribution are to co-operate for joint booking and billing of their releases.

Columbus and Vega will retain their independence and continue to handle their own marketing and PR campaigns separately.

Among the first releases are the Locarno competition film Happiness Is A Warm Gun by local filmmaker Thomas Imbach and Sandra Nettelbeck's Mostly Martha which had its world premiere on the Piazza Grande on August 6, as well as Jean-Luc Godard's Eloge De L'Amour, Cedric Kahn's Roberto Succo, and Christoph Schaub's Stille Liebe (Secret Love), which has its world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival later this month.

Columbus Film handles Swiss films and co-productions theatrically and on VHS/DVD, including the Oscar-winning Journey Of Hope, and Silvio Soldini's Bread And Tulips. In 2000, the company registered a 2.16% market share thanks to the year's top local film Bread And Tulips. Vega Distribution, founded last year by Vega Film's Ruth Waldburger and Adriano Vigano, scored a 1.18% market share with, amongst others, Markus Imboden's Komiker which attracted 157,528 admissions and was the second most popular Swiss film in 2000 after Bread And Tulips.

Meanwhile, Canadian distributor Equinox has picked up Swiss filmmaker Curt Truninger's Dead By Monday. The black comedy will be released in Italy by BIM this month, to be followed later in the year by Buena Vista International (Switzerland), BV Film (Norway) and BAC Films (France).