Black Bear Announces Launch of UK Distribution Business, Sets International Leadership Team

Black Bear International, the newly created international division of Black Bear Pictures headed by John Friedberg, has set the senior leadership team for the business. Llewellyn Radley, Laura Austin Little, Jill Silfen and Mike Shanks all join Friedberg at the new venture, having previously worked together at STX International.

Llewellyn Radley joins as EVP, International and UK MD and will lead the launch of Black Bear’s direct distribution business in the UK, reporting to Friedberg. The company will release 12-15 films per year, including Black Bear productions and international and UK acquisitions. Black Bear UK has already secured UK rights to two sought-after titles – Conclave, directed by Edward Berger and starring Ralph Fiennes, Stanley Tucci and John Lithgow, and Knox Goes Away, starring and directed by Michael Keaton. Entering the UK direct distribution market strategically complements Black Bear’s Canadian distribution operation, Elevation Pictures, led by Laurie May and Noah Segal.

Laura Austin Little joins as EVP, International Sales and will oversee the sales and licensing of Black Bear International’s slate of titles. Before joining STX, Austin Little held senior sales roles at Lakeshore Entertainment, Annapurna and Exclusive Media.

Jill Silfen joins as General Counsel. Prior to STX, Silfen was EVP of Business Affairs at Miramax, and ran her own private practice working for major studios and streamers, including A24, Amazon and Focus.

Mike Shanks joins as COO of the international group, overseeing all aspects of finance and operations for the international and UK businesses. Prior to STX, Shanks held senior finance roles at companies including eOne and Sky.

Announcing the news, John Friedberg said ‘I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Llewellyn, Laura, Jill and Mike to the Black Bear family. Over recent years, they have shown themselves to be an exceptionally diligent and capable group of executives. I look forward to building on our close working relationship as we establish Black Bear International as a force in the marketplace, and launch a dynamic new UK distribution business.

Black Bear International is committed to the international sales and distribution of premium film and television, spearheading the international sales and distribution of Black Bear’s robust slate of projects, aggressively securing international and territorial-specific rights to critical and commercially driven content, and opportunistically producing and packaging projects to bolster Black Bear International’s slate.

Black Bear International is preparing for a busy Toronto, where the company will launch officially, both with new projects for international and acquiring films for the UK.