Tokyo movie market bustling at opening

First-time o'seas guests give TIFFCOM international flavor

TOKYO -- Worries of a global slowdown were nowhere in sight Wednesday at a bustling first day of TIFFCOM, the movie marketplace attached to the Tokyo International Film Festival.

"It's much busier than last year, and people who are asking for meetings want to do serious negotiations, they're not just here to take a look," said Makito "Mac" Sugiyama, head of foreign program sales at Tokyo Broadcasting System.

After a slow Pusan International Film Festival earlier in October, where sales offices are spread through several hotels in the South Korean resort town, the Asian film industry looks to be shifting its focus to the more compact TIFFCOM market, which features a record 172 exhibitors under one roof.

With foreign exhibitors taking half of the booths for the first time, including companies from TIFFCOM newcomers Australia, Italy, Spain, Vietnam and Norway, the market has a more international feel than previous years.

"Pusan was quiet, and people came back from Cannes saying it was the fewest number of Asian industry people they'd ever seen there," Sugiyama said. "Maybe people feel now they don't need to go to Europe to do business, they can do it right here."

Sugiyama said the festival should think about moving to a larger venue if Asian film buyers decide to stay closer to home as international travel becomes prohibitively expensive.

"With the world economy as it is, what we're seeing is very positive. They'll have to think about moving venues in the future as there's no room for any more booths here," he said.