Berlin market becoming a 'must attend'

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The European Film Market is bigger and brasher than ever before, but is it also better?

This year's EFM is set to break records on all fronts — attendance, films screened, even floor space in the Martin-Gropius Bau venue. As the year's first major market got started, execs agreed that Berlin has earned its spot on the calendar (HR 2/8).

"All the buyers and sellers will be here, so you have to be here," said Samuel Hadida, co-chief of French independent distributor Metropolitan Filmexport. "All the sales companies are coming in with two or three new titles."

Said Stelios Ziannis, head of world sales at Germany's Kinowelt International: "It has definitely become the third market (after the Festival de Cannes and AFM)."

"Just one look at the buyer's list, and you can see how big Berlin has gotten," Ziannis added. "The biggest addition has probably been the Americans — they're all (here) now."

Berlin used to be about mopping up sales on smaller territories. But the number of market premieres indicates the event has become a place to launch product.

Some of the debuting titles generating heat are Paul Schrader's "The Walker," David Mackenzie's "Hallam Foe" and Gabor Csupo's "Bridge to Terabithia."

Summit will be hawking John Woo's "The Battle of Red Cliff" and will screen footage of Mike Newell's literary adaptation "Love in the Time of Cholera"; Filmax will show the first footage of Brad Anderson's $15 million Ben Kingsley-Woody Harrelson starrer "Transsiberia"; Pathe will unwrap Jan Kouenen's highly anticipated "99 Francs"; and First Look International will drum up business for "A Spiritual Journey," the latest comedy documentary from "Borat" director Larry Charles.

"I think this market is going to be more about scripts than finished footage, with deals closing between now and Cannes," one European buyer said.
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