Rome fest's market exceeds expectations

Five days of dealmaking ended Sunday

ROME -- With the lineup from the third Rome International Film Festival eliciting mostly disappointing reviews at the halfway point, it appears Rome's version of a market might prove one of the festival's biggest successes.

Officially called the Mercato Internazionale del Film but still mostly referred to by its former name, the Business Street, global economic turmoil left initial expectations for the informal set of meetings relatively low.

But after five full days of dealing along Rome's Via Veneto, most of the participants -- which included Wild Bunch Distribution, Alta Film from Spain, Mexico's Quality Film, U.K.-based Summit Film Prods. and Canada's Seville Pictures -- were declaring the market a success.

"I think most people who came here didn't know what to expect given the economic climate," one European-based buyer said on the market's final day, echoing remarks from other participants. "People were more cautious, I think, but in the end, deals were made."

The official tally of dealmaking won't be known for weeks because many contracts are agreed to in one place and signed in another. But Sylvain Auzou, the market's director, said he thinks the event is beginning to find a place on the calendars of important buyers and sellers.

"People come to an event once out of curiosity, but if they come back again, and then for a third time, it's because it's worth their while," Auzou said after the market ended. "There's a need for a market in Europe between Toronto and the American Film Market in North America, and that's the role we are filling."