Fortissimo, Maximum team up


TORONTO -- As the Toronto International Film Festival gets underway, upstart Canadian distributor Maximum Films on Thursday said it has signed a pact with Fortissimo Films that will see its films sold in Asia in return for releasing Fortissimo titles in Canada.

The two-year agreement will see Maximum -- launched in August by veteran producer Robert Lantos -- acquire the Canadian distribution rights to Fortissimo's lineup. The deal will kick off with Alexi Tan's "Blood Brothers," Australian director Peter Duncan's "Unfinished Sky," German filmmaker Jan Schuette's "Love Come Lately" and the Ran Tal documentary "Children of the Sun."

In turn, Amsterdam- and Hong Kong-based Fortissimo will shop Maximum titles in Asia, including Toronto opener "Fugitive Pieces" from Jeremy Podeswa, Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg" and Atom Egoyan's "Adoration."

The deal helps strengthen weak spots for both parties.

Fortissimo co-chairman Michael Werner said his company has traditionally relied on U.S. distributors to sub-license its titles to Canadian distributors. The Maximum deal, he said, will give Fortissimo more control in the market during a period of growth.

"Fortissimo is taking on more and more films each year, with a wide range and variety, and it's nice to have a single home you can go to and plot out a strategy to release the maximum number of films in all media," he said.

For its part, Maximum gains a pipeline into the Asian market.

Lantos explained that his films have previously been sold into the market by a series of distributors, most notably Summit Entertainment. Now that he's relaunched himself in international film sales, Lantos chose to tie up with Fortissimo to better his odds in Asia.

"I'd rather have my films in their hands (Fortissimo) in the Asian market, than anyone else," Lantos said.

"Their contacts and experience are going to be an enormous asset as Maximum establishes itself as a premiere sales company," added Maximum's international sales chief Charlotte Mickie.