Urman flees ThinkFilm for Senator

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The indie landscape has undergone yet another reordering as longtime ThinkFilm executive Mark Urman has departed the company to take the post of president at the revamped Senator Entertainment U.S.

Urman, who will remain based in New York for the bicoastal Senator, will oversee all distribution for the company, which is expected to ramp up its operations in that area.

The announcement Friday comes on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival and could alter the sales dynamic there.

Urman was expected to be tied to ThinkFilm, a buyer whose financial woes had made sellers wary. Although he won't officially start at Senator until Oct. 1, he will in all likelihood scout and buy for his new company, bolstering the executive ranks of a much-needed new buyer.

Despite the changes roiling the specialty market, Urman said this is "the perfect time to launch a company of this shape and size" and described an outfit equipped to handle bigger and more specialized releases.

Senator last month was realigned as a U.S.-centric company, with executive Marco Weber buying out all shares of the domestic operation. Urman will focus on distribution and Weber on production.

Senator is currently producing such films as the Samuel L. Jackson thriller "Unthinkable," which it will distribute, and has acquired U.S. rights to the French con man movie "Public Enemy No. 1."

Urman leaves in his wake at ThinkFilm a company whose executive ranks have been substantially depleted. Urman had been its most public face and topper David Bergstein, embroiled in several legal spats, now faces even more questions.

A longtime indie executive with companies like Lionsgate, Urman helped found ThinkFilm seven years ago as an indie distributor that could be a player in the finished-film market. Urman held several top positions at the company, most recently president.

The voluble New York-based executive is known for creative marketing campaigns run on modest budgets; he most famously spearheaded the awards campaign that landed Ryan Gosling a best actor Oscar nomination in 2007 for "Half Nelson." He also oversaw the release of such breakout documentaries as "Born Into Brothels" and "Spellbound."

Despite a track record of quality and creative marketing since its inception, ThinkFilm has faced financial troubles, and was sold two years ago to Capitol Films entrepreneur Bergstein. (partialdiff)
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