As part of its strategy to deepen its ties with its native French film biz, StudioCanal has picked up French distribution rights as well as international sales rights on a quartet of new French titles: Down By Love, Kalinka, Five and French Cuisine.

Directed by Pierre Godeau, Down by Love stars Blue Is the Warmest Color’s Adele Exarchopoulos and Guillaume Gallienne in a tale of a passionate story of forbidden love between a married prison director and a young, attractive female prisoner (Exarchopoulos). Pan Européenne Production and LGM Cinéma have produced the film.

Vincent Garenq’s Kalinka, starring evergreen French star Daniel Auteuil and Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others) , is set in 1982 and follows grieving father André Bamberski, who beocmes convinced his 14 year-old daughter’s death on vacation with her mother and stepfather was not an accident. He accuses his daughter’s stepfather (Koch) of murdering her as the
murderer, and dedicates his life to getting her justice.

Igor Gotesman’s Five stars Cesar winning Pierre Niney (Yves Saint Laurent) and an ensemble cast in a comedy about a group of twenty-somethings who move into their dream apartment in an ultra-trendy neighbourhood in Paris. When Sam (Niney) is shut off by his wealthy father, the young man turns to drug dealing for some quick cash but only succeeds in finding himself in a world of trouble.

Florent Siri’s French Cuisine follows a married couple, the husband of whom is obsessed with getting a Michelin star for their restaurant, while his wife is desperate for them to have their first child, having just turned 40. Franck Dubosc and Pascale Arbillot star in another LGM Cinema production.

StudioCanal will handle international sales and also release in France. The titles, which will be unveiled at Unifrance’s Paris-based Rendez-Vous with French cinema, underlines the strategy under new StudioCanal chief Didier Lupfer to stengthen the company’s ties with French producers as well as continuing to expand its international operations.  The former head of production and development at its Ubisoft Motion Pictures arm, Lupfer, was appointed both Canal Plus’ film division president as well as president at StudioCanal in September. That same month, StudioCanal acquired 30% of French distributor Mars Films, with Mars’ respected Stephane Celerier becoming a StudioCanal VP as a result of the deal. That move was widely interpreted as the desire from StudioCanal parent Vivendi to expand the company’s depth in its home country and replicate the success the company is enjoying in the UK market. This week, figures released by Rentrak showed StudioCanal UK, under the leadership of Danny Perkins, was the UK’s biggest indie distrib at the box office in 2015, wrestling the crown away from long-time Brit indie champ Entertainment Film.

StudioCanal also scored nine BAFTA nominations in the UK for Todd Haynes’ Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. To get a sense of the importance of StudioCanal to the local market, one need only bear in mind that parent Canal Plus accounts for some 15% of France’s annual film production spend between $230m to $300m, repping a major pillar of the filmmaking community.

The Mars’ stake acquisition is unlikely to be the last. Parent Vivendi is sitting on a war chest of up to $15 billion following a campaign of asset divestment by billionaire chairman Bolloré that has left the company re-focused on media through its two main assets: Canal Plus and Universal Music Group.

High on the agenda is believed to be an attempt to create a pan-European on-demand platform across France, Italy, Spain and Germany- and possibly the UK- that would not only rival but potentially surpass Netflix’s ambitions in there.

The news comes in the same week that figures rev