Deal Makers Bullish on Market Eve

Wei Te-Sheng
"Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale" is the latest film from 2008 Busan hit "Cape No. 7" director Wei Te-sheng.

The sixth edition of the Asian Film Market looks to raise its international profile.

BUSAN, South Korea -- BIFF gets down to business Monday morning, with the opening of the four annual industry events held alongside the festival.

Three of the four — the Asian Film Market, Asian Film Policy Forum and Busan International Film Commission — are mov- ing to the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center (BEXCO) for the first time, with each running from Oct. 10 to 13.

The fourth, the Asian Project Market, remains at the Seacloud Hotel at Haeundae Beach.

The shift to the new venue has some exhibitors and buyers concerned about logistics. However, BIFF director Lee Yong-kwan said his staff was on top of it.

Aside from logistical concerns though, both buyers and sellers expressed optimism as the market opened.

Lee revealed that the number of U.S. and Korean participants at the market has increased compared with last year. When early registration for AFM closed July 31, 40 percent more exhibitors and 30 percent more badge holders had registered than during the same period in 2010. American and Japanese company participation doubled over the previous year’s number.

“We are hoping to create a comprehensive market,” said Lee. “The plan is to build a cinema hub in Busan with the Busan Cinema Center at the heart, and surrounding architecture that houses the Cultural Contents Center for games and animation companies, a digital studio, a post-production studio, and abuilding that will be the home for KOFIC, the Censorship Committee, and the Busan Film Commission.”

“It feels like there is a heightened level of expectation for business going into this year’s market in Busan,” commented Michael Werner, chairman of Fortissimo Films, which is bringing to Busan titles such as French drama Wetlands, Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, Lost in Paradise, and Goodbye, and to scout new projects at the recently renamed Asian Project Market.

“I think that it’s a combination of strong programming of available titles in the Festival and the move of the Market to its new venue with an increased number of participants. Fortissimo has a very strong and diverse selection of brand new and recent titles that we are showcasing here so count us amongst the optimists,” he said.

Judy Ahn, head of Showbox/Mediaplex’s International Business Team, also has high expectations for the event this year. “The market is going to be bigger this year, with many more participating countries and companies. So we expect more diversity. Also, the change of venue will provide for a more convenient setting to meet more people. The festival and market are undergoing a lot of changes so we have good expectations,” she said.

Elsewhere at the festival:

Busan International Film Commission
Seeking to make Busan more than just a city visited annually for the festival, BIFCOM enters its 10th year as it endeavors to make Busan a destination for the Asian film industry. With two primary areas of focus – “Location” and “Industry” – BIFCOM seeks to promote the city both as a shooting location and as a base for production and other film companies to establish a presence. Its mission goes hand in hand with the Asian Film Market.

Asian Film Policy Forum
The 2011 Asian Film Policy Forum brings poli- cymakers from around the region to share ideas and issues relating to the management and regulation of the film and broadcast industry in Asia.

Asian Project Forum
The Pusan Promotion Plan is being rechristened as the Asian Project Market, giving filmmakers a chance to gain support for their concepts at various stages of production, while gaining important feedback from producers and financiers. Most prominent among projects that have received aid from the program is Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry, which went on to win the Best Screenplay at the Festival de Cannes.

— Lee Hyo-won contributed to this report.