Turkish hospitality at Eurasia Film Market

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ANTALYA, Turkey -- Doing business while sipping strong black coffee and lounging on giant pillows under the sunshine of seaside resort Antalya is a very Turkish way of working, one that participants at the country's first film mart warmly welcomed at last week's Eurasia Film Market. The confab is part of Antalya's combined 43rd Golden Orange Film Festival and the second Eurasia Film Festival.

Eurasia seeks to fill the gap, organizers say, "between Cannes and Pusan," bringing buyers and sellers, producers and distributors together at a key geographical point.

Engin Yigitgil, president of the film festivals, says: "Our aim is to promote Turkey as a venue for co-productions and encourage more international sales and interest."

It's a bold ambition and one that the market's backers -- which include Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- have gone to considerable expense to launch, covering expenses for the majority of the 200 market participants.

Tara Gaule, senior sales executive at London-based distributor High Point Films and Television, says Eurasia offers a chance to meet key Turkish buyers under one roof.

"We knew that a lot of our buyers were going to be here, and having the market as part of the film festivals offered a good opportunity to meet our buyers in a more relaxed environment," Gaule says.

Her two television and theatrical deals with Turkish and Hungarian distributors made the trip worthwhile, though she says she would have liked to have seen more Turkish television buyers attending.

Other international participants -- who had clocked up 16 deals between them by Day 3 -- expressed approval for a mart that offered a smaller, more intimate structure than many.

Roomy, air-conditioned booths at Antalya's Hillside Su Hotel were often sparsely attended, with business being done on the beach or in the futuristic all-white lobby lounge.

Loic Magneron, manager of French sales company Wide Management, closed a couple of deals in Antalya. "When you go to a market in a country and succeed in selling a film into that market, that suggests there is a real synergy to create a new momentum," Magneron says.

Not all visitors were as impressed: Some Turkish producers felt the market came too soon after Toronto. "The timing is very bad," says Ceyda Tufan of Istanbul's PI Film Production. "We all travel to the most important markets around the world. This venue would be better as a co-production market."

Deniz Ziya Temeltas, one of the market organizers, says an industry office may be added next year. As for timing -- that was in God's hands. "The event was brought forward from its early October slot because of the timing of Ramadan, which won't be a problem for another 36 years," he promises.
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