Next week sees the birth ofthe newest addition to the international film market calendar - the four-dayAsian Film Market (Oct 15-18) - which takes place in the bustling containerport and tourism centre of Busan in South Korea.

As part of the vibrant Pusan International Film Festival (Busanis the new name for the city although the festival has kept the old spelling),the upstart market already has a lot going for it.

PIFF's strong Asian programming has long attractedinternational buyers and festival programmers looking for the latest KoreanWave hit or to unearth an up-and-coming Chinese auteur.

It also doesn't hurt thatthe market is located in a country with one of the most dynamic film productionindustries in Asia.

But the "other AFM" issqueezing into an impossibly crowded calendar, between Toronto and the American Film Market in Los Angeles.

Organisers stress that the Pusan AFM will have a greater emphasis on Asian productthan these other markets. But Asia already has one other international film market -Hong Kong Filmart at the end of March - along withsmaller confabs in Tokyo, Bangkokand Shanghai.

The Pusan event also takes place at the same time as the newRome Film Fest which has led to anguished cries from distributors who feel theneed to be in two places at the same time. However, bad timing might not be anissue next year as PIFF is moving its dates forward and the market will takeplace Oct 4-7, leaving a gap of one month until the Los Angeles AFM andhopefully a few weeks distance from Rome.

Announced at PIFF last year,the Asian Film Market has evolved from the highly-respected projects market, Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP), which among other things helpedintroduce China's sixth generation of directors to the rest of theworld.

For the past six years, PPPhas been supplemented by a small market of mostly Korean sales companies whichset up shop in the Paradise Hotel. Industry delegates appreciated the event forits laid-back atmosphere that allowed for plenty of downtime with filmmakersand distributors, rather than frenzied sales meetings on a trade show floor.

But demand for afully-fledged film market had reached saturation point, according to marketdirector Park Kwang-su. "The PPP grew to become asolid and successful market, which helped to vitalise the Asian film industry,and over time this has resulted in strong demand for a regular film marketwithin PIFF," says Park.

The ambitions of the city ofBusan, which has hosted PIFF for 11 years and created the Busan Film Commission in 1999 to attract film productionsto the city, also played an important role in the market's creation. "

As the Busancity government has designated the film industry as the city's major industry,and is reinforcing various support policies for the industry, Pusan has become a solid rock for the blooming filmindustry in Korea over the years, which has led to the launch of the Asian Film Market,"Park says.

Therefore the market - whichhas a budget of around $2.5m, half of which comes from the city of Busan - is at the centre of plans to transform the cityinto a new hub of the pan-Asian film industry. The market also aims to be muchmore than a platform for film sales, with its emphasis on co-production andfinancing through PPP, locations and digital technology through BIFCOM andAsian talent via the inaugural Star Summit Asia (see sidebar).

"We especially want tocontribute to the development of the film industry in the pan-Asian region bysupporting co-production and exchange," says Park.

At the time of writing,around 160 sales companies, film commissions and talent agencies were planningto exhibit at the market's main venue, the beach-side Grand Hotel, while thetotal number of participants was expected to reach 2,000. This makes the marketroughly half the size of Hong Kong Filmart, but ithas an immediate advantage in that it has the 10-screen Primus multiplex at itsdisposal, while buyers have grumbled about Filmart'sscattered screening facilities.

The two markets both aim tobecome hubs of the fast-growing pan-Asian film industry, but have slightlydifferent positioning. The Hong Kong event is broader - asit also provides a platform for the television, digital entertainment and musicindustries - while Pusan goes deeper and aims to become all things to thefilm industry.

But despite their pan-Asianstance, both markets are also aggressively courting Western sales companieswhich now have to decide whether or not to make a second trip to Asia each year. Most of the 100-plus sales companies attending the Pusan AFM are from Asia, but the market has also managed to attract sellers from the US, including Arclight Filmsand Eleven Arts, the UK, Germany and Eastern Europe. The UK Film Councilis taking delegation of seven companies, including Capitol Films, Celsius and Hanway Films, although UniFrance,which has a large presence at Filmart, has decidedthis year to focus on Rome.

"The benefit of attendingthis market in addition to Filmart is that Korea isthe second largest market in Asia in an expanding region of the world and itprovides us with an opportunity to screen and acquire new titles," says Celsiusfounder Thierry Wase-Bailey.

Capitol Films' head of salesEve Schoukroun adds that Pusanis "a great place to meet all the significant distributors throughout Asia" andalso "has a privileged position being close enough to the AFM that one canstart conversations about new and existing films that then, hopefully, developinto a sale at the AFM."

However, proximity to the Los Angeles market discouraged some sellers from exhibiting in Pusan.

"We'd already planned to goto the AFM and can't do both as it takes a lot of time to prepare for amarket," says Virginia Leung of Hong Kong's MandarinFilms. "But I'm attending Pusan to take a look and if there's potential will thinkabout allocating resources next year."

Indeed, many buyers andsellers see the Pusan AFM shaping up to be anAsia-focused preview to the Los Angeles market in much the same way that Hong Kong Filmarthas become a warm-up for Cannes.

Non-Korean sales companiesare also interested to see how the reduction in Korea's screen quota for local films could affect sales tothe territory.

As for the Korean sellerswho have to bump up this year to make room for the rest of the world, they'rehoping the new market will give them an opportunity to spend time with overseasbuyers on their home turf.

More than 300 distributorsfrom 22 countries are expected to attend, including Lionsgate,The Weinstein Company and Magnolia Pictures from the US, France's EuropaCorp and the UK's Tartan Films, Soda Pictures and The Works.

"Usually there are quite afew European buyers at Pusan, but this year we also have US buyers," says Core Studio's vice president,international business, EJ Cho.

"It's not easy to spendquality time with your buyers at Cannes and the AFM but at a smaller market like this weshould be able to share more information."