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U.S. companies are planting their own collective flag in the middle of Filmart, the annual four-day film market that kicks off March 21 in Hong Kong. In the past, individual American companies had to go it alone when they set up shop at the vast Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. But this year, 22 companies will cluster together under the auspices of the new American Pavilion.
The Independent Film & Television Alliance, which is organizing the Pavilion, “has been a fan of Filmart for quite some time,” IFTA executive vp Jonathan Wolf says. But in his conversations with Asian buyers and sellers during previous visits to the market, he kept hearing the same concern: Asian companies were accustomed to making three long-haul trips a year to the markets in Berlin, Cannes and the American Film Market in Santa Monica. It was time for more of IFTA’s members to make a reciprocal visit to Asia. “We have encouraged our members to visit Filmart in terms of growing their own business,” Wolf says. This year, though, rather than just hang out their individual shingles, they will have a more concerted, and more concentrated, presence.
IFTA’s initiative got a boost from a $248,000 grant from the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The award, spread over three years, is intended to help IFTA establish national pavilions at two major markets — the second has yet to be chosen. To win that support, IFTA argued that the business its members generate during the course of the grant will translate into $112 million in export revenue while creating 1,120 direct and 2,464 indirect American jobs.
But the most immediate benefit for the companies taking part in this first American Pavilion is that they will have greater visibility. Rather than finding themselves scattered throughout the convention floor, they will be collected in one location, where they will also be able to take advantage of services like branding, signage and advertising.
While IFTA, headquartered in L.A., has members from around the world, it’s primarily U.S. member companies that will set up shop under the American Pavilion banner — from established players like Nu Image/Millennium and IM Global to newer outfits like Sierra/Affinity and W2 Media.
While China is expected to open its quotas for the import of foreign films, that doesn’t account for the timing of IFTA’s decision to inaugurate a pavilion, Wolf explains. “Other countries like France and Germany have different national organizations that set up export pavilions, but the U.S. hasn’t had that,” he says. “The whole idea here is to drive traffic.”
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