IFC Adds Films Unit

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The Independent Film Channel is launching its own theatrical-film distribution company under the name IFC Films, officials said last week.

The distribution arm, part of the IFC Entertainment division, will be run by new senior vice president of marketing and distribution Bob Berney. He joins IFC from Inwood Films, which he launched in 1999 to handle distribution for such theatricals asThe Woman ChaserandReturn with Honor.

New York-based IFC Films will release 10 to 12 theatricals a year, building a slate of titles through an aggressive acquisitions program and select in-house offerings from IFC Productions. The new company will actively pursue acquisitions at several film festivals in late fall.

"It's just another business expansion that sets IFC apart as a network," said Kathleen Dore, president of Bravo Networks and IFC. "It will provide original content early to IFC. And for cable operators, as a releasing company, we're likely to be more VOD [video-on-demand] friendly than a studio."

As a theatrical-title distributor, IFC can decide if it wants to take the first TV or post-pay TV window on the independent films it handles, according to Dore.

IFC Entertainment includes IFC Productions, a feature-film production company that to date has four major releases to its credit:Gray's Anatomy,Men With Guns,Boys Don't CryandMr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.IFC Productions' fall releases areGirlfightandSongcatcher.IFC Films will distribute movies not only via Clearview Cinemas in the New York metropolitan area-which is owned by IFC parent Cablevision Systems Corp.-but also through other theater chains, according to IFC Entertainment president Jonathan Sehring.

"These films will go out nationally," he said.

The Clearview connection gives IFC Films an advantage in getting its movies screened in New York, which is key for an indie film's success, Dore said.

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