HanWay, Celluloid sharing new dream


U.K.-based HanWay Films and Paris-centered Celluloid Dreams, two of the best-known indie sales and finance houses on the festival and market circuit, are merging and forming the new banner Dreamachine (HR 4/4).

Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas and Celluloid principal Hengameh Panahi will serve as joint chairmen for Dreamachine, sharing an equal stake in the privately owned company.

Panahi's remit will be to oversee acquisitions and production, while HanWay chief executive Tim Haslam will serve as CEO of the company, responsible for sales and marketing. The new entity boasts a library of more than 500 titles including works from Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, James Ivory, Philip Noyce and Takeshi Kitano.

Dreamachine is sure to be big news at Cannes this year, boasting films from such helmers as Asif Kapadia, Todd Haynes, Johnnie To, Michael Haneke and Michael Winterbottom.

Panahi and Thomas told a select gathering of media that the new outfit will reduce the number of movies and filmmakers it represents, aiming to "make it far more focused and selective."

Panahi said the move to merge came on the back of increasingly hostile market conditions facing those selling distribution rights to foreign-language films on the global festival and market circuit.

The duo said the company harbors "no theatrical distribution plans of its own" and that Dreamachine plans to unveil "extensive and ambitious" plans in the digital distribution arena soon.

No timetable was given for such digital ambitions other than to say they would be "global" in scope and likely include North America. But the executives said the plan will be to concentrate largely on financing and selling English-language titles and to continue both companies' history of birthing and shepherding director-led projects.

The new company has inherited offices and staff in London, Paris and Toronto.