Cannes' market notches higher participation

Paillard attributes increase to government support

CANNES -- Cannes may have been slow deal-wise this year, but final statistics from the Marche du Film, presented Friday, showed increases across the board.

Attendance at the market arm of the festival was up 2%, with 10,700 participants. There were 4,175 companies represented, with 256 of these exhibiting at the Marche.

More than 100 countries were represented for the first time this year as newcomers including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Jordan, Macedonia and Palestine brought the total tally to 101 territories.

The countries with the biggest increase in attendees were Columbia, which was up 118%; Russia, 62%; Ukraine, 39%; and the United Arab Emirates, 38%.

"This increase may be the translation of more government support for local film export," Marche executive director Jerome Paillard said. "I also think Cannes is being identified as the place for producers to gain visibility and find partners."

The U.S. accounted for the highest percentage of participants overall at 18%. France followed with 13%, then the U.K. with 12% and Germany with 5%, reflecting the comeback of the German market since collapsing seven years ago.

This year 1,004 films screened at the Marche, up from 950 in 2007.

There were 1,635 screenings, 70 more than last year, and 36% of the films were shown digitally.

"Five years ago the number of films shown on digital was zero," Paillard said. "Following discussions at this market, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of digital screenings hits 100% next year, or at least 75%. Companies now say it makes no difference if films aren't shown on 35mm. For last-minute films, it's so much easier."

Despite high-profile deals being few and far between, Paillard said one trend was strong presales on big films.

Altogether, 5,613 films (both completed films and projects in development) were presented at the market, up from 4,800 last year. "There's an enormous growth in projects here, which is inappropriate if the market in general is decreasing," Paillard said. He conceded that business-wise it wasn't the strongest of years, despite numerous deals on both smaller and bigger titles.

"Because of the general state of the market, I'm not so sure this is such a big deal. It was what people were expecting," he said. Paillard said that the weak dollar was not necessarily the root cause of the slow pace.

"I think the key problem is the situation with television and video, even if theatrical business remains strong," he said.

"The dollar may actually be helpful to some U.S. companies, and not many Europeans sell to American anyway," he added.