UIP and the pan-European Media Business School (MBS) kicked off the inaugural edition of their joint training initiative in Seville, Spain on Tuesday, describing it as the "first international marketing and distribution training programme given by practitioners and for practitioners."

MBS director Juan Pita, UIP president and COO Andrew Cripps and course director Jill Tandy, former head of legal and business affairs at PolyGram, welcomed 16 participants from across Europe for the first leg of the programme, dubbed MD2000.

Emphasising one-on-one contact and networking to foment cross-European relationships, MD2000 consists of interactive seminars and consultations, film screenings and case studies. A follow-up week of training will be held in London in March. Before then each participant has the option of a three-week, hands-on internship with UIP.

MD2000 targets young executives in marketing, distribution and advertising, setting it apart from the mostly producer-oriented programs of the MBS. This year's participants represent some of Europe's leading firms as well as many independent and start-up outfits. The MBS has trained more than 2,000 European media professionals in its nine years of activity.

The participation of a leading private company such as UIP also marks a new direction for MBS, which is funded by the European Union's MEDIA Programme. Among the speakers and tutors leading the sessions at MD2000 are top UIP executives such as head of international acquisitions and development Marion Pilowsky, general counsel Philip Solomons, advertising VP Andrew Brown, creative services VP Chas Evans, Latin America and Caribbean sales and marketing manager Mark Viane, Spain general manager Gualberto Bana and Netherlands GM Max van Praag.

Other industry heavyweights on-hand to lead sessions this week include: MD2000 co-chairman and MBS president Andres Vicente Gomez, CEO of Lolafilms; Jose Batlle, UCI general manager and VP for Southern Europe and Brazil; MGM president of international distribution Larry Gleason; United Artists Films CEO Wendy Palmer; new Lolafilms marketing director Guillermo Velasco; and independent marketing consultant Gerry Lewis. MD2000 co-chairman Paul Oneile, chairman and CEO of UIP, will lead the London sessions, with expected involvement from top names in the UK film industry.