GC Financial takes 25% stake in Zip Films

Company looks to expand across Europe

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- U.S. venture capital fund GC Financial Group has acquired a 25% stake in Barcelona-based Zip Films for €3.7 million, giving it a foothold in Spain from which to launch a European expansion.

"Now we have a base in Europe to take advantage of the financing structure for independent films," GC managing partner Adi Cohen said Thursday. "Zip is our base with the Spanish-speaking film industry, and gives us a place to launch our European entertainment operation."

Cohen said GC would be looking to buy another film company in Germany as part of its strategy.

"In the last 10 years most independent films were financed out of Europe," Cohen said. "We're looking to be in the center of the process, instead of at the end of the food chain."

GC gives Zip access to a $22.4 million in revolving credit as the newly teamed entity looks to become what Cohen calls a "Pan-European, transatlantic art house film powerhouse."

New York-based Israeli Cohen, who partners in GC with Joseph Grinkorn, enters as president of Zip, alongside CEO Jordi Rediu and Chief Financial Officer Norbert Llaras.

GC comes to the partnership with film rights to U.S. production house Killer Films' $20 million "Betsy and the Emperor," starring Al Pacino. Zip is the Spanish co-producer of "Betsy."

"We're looking to do three to five projects per year," Rediu said. "The films we're going to make are much more international and expensive than the small-budget films we've made until now."

Zip's upcoming slate includes the Israeli-Spanish "Blank Bullet," about the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Directed by Haim Buraglo is a €1.7 million co-production with Israel's Full Moon Prod.

Also scheduled is the English-language "Fake Orgasm," directed by Jo Sol ("Taxi Thief") with Judith Baker and the directorial feature debut of Rediu, the $5 million "The Body," an English-language thriller set to shoot in the first half of 2010.

Zip has also taken a 20% stake in Henning Carlsen's $7 million "Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores," based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

"When you have a brand name for unique artistic films, you can capitalize on them and grow from there," Cohen said. "The brand will be Zip Films."
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