UTV, Palador extend 'Olive' branch

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NEW DELHI -- A settlement was announced Thursday between Mumbai-based UTV Motion Pictures and independent distributor Palador Pictures after their recently announced world cinema joint venture -- "The Olive Collection" -- was suspended in May (HR: 6/16) over differences between both partners.

Reasons for the dispute were not given.

In an interview Thursday, Palador Pictures managing director Gautam Shiknis said: "Following arbitration, a legal decree was passed last week which has resolved the dispute. Among the terms of the settlement, Palador's contribution to the joint venture of about 100 films will revert to us while the remainder 70 titles, which were also a part of the joint venture, will come back to our fold after we reimburse UTV with operational costs incurred by them to launch 'The Olive Collection.'" UTV Motion Pictures CEO Sidharth Roy Kapur also confirmed that "differences have been resolved as per the terms of the legal decree."

The films returned to Palador include works by directors including Akira Kurasawa, Lars Von Trier, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Haneke and Mohsen Makhmalbaf, among others.

The settlement terms also provide for the Olive brand to shortly come under Palador, with both parties free to independently pursue projects related to promoting world cinema in India.

When first announced in March, "The Olive Collection" was to entail an investment of $16 million with the intent of promoting world cinema titles via home video, theatrical release and at a later stage, by launching a specialist movie channel.

Shiknis said Palador would go ahead with these multiple distribution plans to exploit its 1,000 title catalog "as we are now expanding our operations by hiring more staff and relocating offices."

Palador is also raising funding of $6 million from private investors which include acclaimed Indian filmmaker Mahesh Mathai ("Bhopal Express" and the upcoming "Broken Thread"), after a 15% dilution of equity, raising Palador's valuation to $40 million.

Palador recently acquired this year's Cannes award-winner "Paranoid Park" by Gus Van Sant, which will see a simultaneous India-France release in September. In addition, Palador's new lineup also includes films from Wong Kar Wai and Werner Herzog, among others, and over 30 films by late greats Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni.
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