Christal pops cork on dist'n plan


TORONTO -- Quebec film distributor Christal Films on Thursday said it will begin handling the releases of its films in English-speaking Canada as of June 1, following the dissolution of its six year-old joint venture with rivals Lionsgate Films and Maple Pictures.

"My company has reached a stage of maturity and acquired a strong reputation that can only serve as a springboard for us to become completely independent," Christal Films president Christian Larouche said of the decision to go it alone nationwide.

After opening a Toronto office one year ago with Joanne Senecal as vp of distribution, Christal Films found success releasing the documentary "March of the Penguins" and Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" on its own outside Quebec.

After May 31, Christal Films will release its own film and video slate, and make all TV sales, outside of Quebec.

Domestic distributors have traditionally focused on either the country's French-speaking market in Quebec, or the English-language market in the rest of Canada.

Upcoming Christal Films releases include Wong Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights," which will open this year's Festival de Cannes, Emir Kusturica's "Promise Me This" and Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Orphanage."