Filmart marks China trend

Co-prods on minds of marketgoers

The Hong Kong International Film and TV Market, aka Filmart, closed Thursday after four days of brisk trade indicating growth in the regional movie industry.

And while the broader indications were of general growth, a detailed survey from Filmart sponsors the Hong Kong Trade Development Council showed how things are shaping up in the region in more specific terms.

For instance, a main topic of discussion at conferences and in the aisles was co-productions, particularly in China. More than 90% of survey respondents said this is now a major trend. The majority said that co-production between China and Hong Kong would be stronger than any other cooperative arrangements in Asia.

The same survey showed that 70% of respondents at-tending the show felt that business was "satisfactory" over the past 12 months, with 82% seeing the digital entertainment arena as offering the greatest opportunities.

Sixty percent of respondents saw Filmart as the region's most important film market in Asia, the HKTDC said.

"I have not been to the market for the last couple of years, but this has been the busiest for us that I have ever attended," said Shinji Sakoda, general manager of the licensing and international business affairs division of Pony Canyon Inc.

"We have had a very warm welcome for the Japanese films that we have presented here and there have been more serious buyers come to talk to us then I have ever seen before," Sakoda added.

Working with Fuji Television, the company had interest in a number of feature films, including "I Just Didn't Do It" and "Gatchi Boy."

"We have been busy and I am exhausted — but I feel very fortunate that we have been made so welcome. It has all been worth it," he added.

South Korean producers said there was a lot of buying going on to fuel that country's growing IPTV market and Canada, France, Spain, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia all sent larger delegations to Filmart this year.

Some had mixed feelings about business in China, saying interest in breaking into the large but restrictive market has cooled.

"The enthusiasm for China has definitely waned," said Michael George, managing director of MTG Media. "The general sentiment is that China has made it clear they are using censorship as a quota system, and outside sellers have accepted it."

Julian Ryall contributed to this report.