Euro film mart strikes positive note


COLOGNE, Germany -- The weak U.S. dollar, a stagnating world DVD market and continued uncertainty surrounding talent strikes in the U.S. might be weighing on the international film industry, but this year's first market is striking a positive note.

Berlin's European Film Market, which runs Feb. 7-17, announced Friday that bookings for 2008 are on par with last year's figures, with a sellout expected for the main exhibition venue in the Martin Groupius Bau.

Some 420 exhibitors from 50 odd countries have booked space at the EFM and 636 buyers have registered to attend the Berlin market.

The exhibitor figure includes 157 companies previously bundled under the European Union's MEDIA program.

Subtracting them, the number of companies heading to the EFM this year is 263, compared to 259 last year.

The number of buyers is down sharply from the 878 executives that attended in 2007 but EFM organizers said registration rates are up compared with this same time last year.

For the first time, the 2008 list will include industry attendees from Romania, Chile and Macedonia.

The bulk of EFM exhibitors continue to hail from Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S., but organizers noted stronger showings from Asian and Eastern European firms this year.

About 700 films will screen at this year's EFM, on par with last year's number. Three-quarters of them are market premieres.