PARIS– Stepping into the North American market, French mini-major MK2 and Canadian industry vet Charles Tremblay have joined forces to launch MK2/Mile End, a Quebec-based independent distribution company which will be involved in a wide range of film-related activities.

On top of being the exclusive distributor of MK2’s catalogue in Quebec, MK2/Mile End will release third party films from all over the world and will eventually get involved in co-financing and production, as well as theatrical programming, virtual reality and cinema-based event.

MK2 chairman Nathanael Karmitz told Variety the company, in which MK2 owns a minority stake, will also be diving into exhibition in Quebec and eventually the whole of Canada.

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Karmitz, who described MK2/Mile End as a brand rather than just a distribution group, said the outfit “lays the foundation stone for MK2’s ambition to contribute to the development of a virtuous eco-system – from production to exhibition — enabling the flourishing of quality films in Quebec and Canada.”

“The Canadian and Quebec film industry is very dynamic, bolstered by many talented directors like Xavier Dolan, to name just one; and at the same time the distribution landscape there is very concentrated — there are hardly any arthouse theaters and very few independent distributors,” explained Karmitz, adding out that the idea behind MK2/Mile End is to create an environment which will boost diversity, stimulate and give more opportunities to local film professionals and directors.

Tremblay, who spearheaded the Canadian distribution company Métropole Films for 10 years, said MK2 was “a partner with a strong and ambitious vision, and one that shares my passion for Quebec cinema.”

Tremblay pointed out the new company will “offer Quebec and Canadian film lovers the opportunity to experience cinema differently.”

The launch of MK2/Mile End will likely raise of profile of European indie films in Canada, a territory which is traditionally dominated by U.S. movies.

Karmitz indeed said Tremblay, with whom he’s collaborated multiple times, has “played an active role in raising the profile of the kind of cinema we cherish across the Canadian market, and particularly in Quebec.”

While at Metropole, Tremblay released many critically-acclaimed films from Mongrel and Sony Pictures Classics, for instance.

Already up and running, MK2/Mile End will soon unveil the first titles of its lineup, which will comprise films by Quebec and international auteurs, as well as upscale mainstream movies. The outfit will aim at releasing about 20 films per year. Tremblay said very few distributors handle this wide range of movies in Quebec and Canada, so MK2/Mile will have a key role to play there.

Tremblay’s closest collaborators at Métropole Films, Ariane Giroux-Dallaire and Olivier St-Pierre, have joined the company and will serve as director of distribution and director of sales/administration, respectively.

MK2, which ranks as one of France’s leading film groups and runs a thriving arthouse theatrical circuit, handles co-production, co-distribution and international sales in France, and is also involved in exhibition in Spain.