Busan’s Sixth Asian Film Market closed today (Oct 13) with a 39% increase of participants since last year.

The four-day market ran for the first time in the Busan Exhibition Convention Center (BEXCO) with a 67% increase in sales booth, too.

The total number of badge holders this year was 1,080 whereas last year it had been 789.

Aside from the deals announced by Finecut, Showbox, Toei, and Gmm Tai Hub, most sellers were holding off announcements and/or signing deals until the upcoming TIFFCOM and American Film Market (AFM).

The European Film Promotion (EFP) umbrella stand was one of the busiest at the Asian Film Market with almost 22 sales companies. EFP supports several films in the festival and market such as Memories Corner by Audrey Fouché and Best Intentions by Adrian Sitaru.

“The European companies have closed several deals during the market, whether they are ready to announce them or not, and many are preparing to close deals. First-time companies like Yellow Affair say they want to come back to Busan as it is a good addition to other markets,” said Mareen Gerisch, head of EFP Press at Busan.

M-appeal’s Aleksandra Abykova agreed that it was useful to have a film in the festival while selling it at the market, noting said she had had a lot of interest in Baikonur [pictured], a German-Kazakh-Russian film screening in the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) from Chinese and Japanese companies. 

She also sold Marcel Rasquin’s Venezuelan drama Hermano to Russia’s Kino Bez Graniz.  

“We need to explore the Korean market – Korean distributors tend to be picky because they need a strong theatrical release. In Japan, we can also sell to video, VoD and TV, but Korean distributors rely on the theatrical release, so if a film isn’t suitable for theatrical they won’t buy it,” said Abykova. 

“In general the market was great for us – we liked the venue and organisation was good. We saw all the Korean buyers and also had meetings with distributors from Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Most of the Chinese buyers don’t go to European markets so it was useful to meet them here in Busan,” she said.

Mirovision also sold BIFF Korean Cinema Today - Vision title Persimmon along with the older title Girlfriends to Ram Indo for Indonesia and Singapore.

“Busan was immensely good for us. It isn’t actually market where we close lots of deals, but we do sign a few and move along towards closing others. Especially because we had a film in the festival, BEXCO seemed to be effective - more traffic and drop-ins,” said Mirovision head Jason Chae.

Mirovision also sold A Scene of Family, Head, Lifting King Kong and The Executioner to Five Star for Thailand.

Not everyone was impressed by the new venue which gathered the sales companies, the Asian Project Market, BIFCOM locations and post-production showcase and events all into one building, on one floor. Traffic was more visible, but the some said the market had lost the intimacy of hotel-room offices. Plus, the exhibition floor provided little sound-proofing from the many TVs playing materials and the event hall seminar microphones. The BEXCO’s wifi left much to be desired as buyers and sellers alike struggled to get connected for more than a few seconds at a time.

US companies like Lakeshore Entertainment and Voltage were feeling out the Asian Film Market for the first time and seemed mostly readying the ground for the American Film Market. Newcomers from Japan seemed satisfied despite – or perhaps because of - the market being held less than two weeks before the Tokyo market TIFFCOM.

Shochiku’s head of Asian Sales Chiyo Mori said, “This is our first time to Busan. It seems like a very good market and we will definitely be coming back. Many Japanese companies are saying the same thing. Shochiku has the festival closing film Chronicles Of My Mother, so we will wait on deals for that and are negotiating others to be closed at TIFFCOM.”

Liz Shackleton contributed to this report.