The Asian Film Market closed its four-day run today (Oct 14) with an increase in participants and a general consensus that the market was quiet but still important for setting up deals and networking.

The market was busy with foot traffic and meetings on the first few days, but quickly became quiet, reflecting the recent trend for buyers to take shorter business trips to cut costs. A few deals were closed (see list below) but many discussions were left open to continue at TIFFCOM and AFM.

Cara Yuan, head of sales at China’s Zonbo Media, said: “We have Chengdu I Love You and A Good Rain Knows in the market, and had a lot of meetings and interest. We are still negotiating, but it’s definitely worth coming to meet with friends and distributors.”

The European Film Promotion (EFP) opened a series of umbrella offices for 24 companies including The Match Factory, Memento Films, Coproduction Office and TrustNordisk.

“EFP has been coming to the Asian Film Market since its inception four years ago, and we expanded our office space this year. But some companies like Celluloid Dreams pulled out at the last minute, and we have no UK companies,” said Susanne Davis, project manager, film sales support at EFP.  

“Maybe next year our offices will be smaller. But on the whole it seems very useful for them to have a base of operations. Attedance also depends on whether people have films in the festival.”

From this year, EFP offers its members 50% of travel costs and hotels and 50% of all marketing costs up to a maximum of $11,000 (Euros7,500) for two films.

Yoon-jeong Kim, head of sales at Korea’s Finecut, said: “It was better than we first expected, and we had a similar number of meetings as last year. A lot of Japanese buyers showed up, but fewer Europeans – maybe because of Rome. There weren’t a lot of North Americans but the ones who came were important ones and we had already covered a lot with North Americans in Toronto.”

For the Japanese, whose own Tokyo market starts next week, the dilemma of whether to attend or not was obvious. UniJapan’s Kenta Fudesaka said: “For us, it was slow as expected. Pusan and Tokyo are too close together now. Last year we had ten Japanese companies with their own booths and this year only four including us. This year, PPP has been brought into the same building, so it seems like there is more traffic but not necessarily buyers.”

The market estimated the total amount of deals rung up this year to be approximately $2m. The number of sales companies with booths went up 4% year-on-year to 75 from 25 countries. The number of sales offices was up by 9% to 45.

China, Hong Kong & Taiwan had the most participants, making up 33% of the total, while 27% were from Europe, 19% from Korea, 7% from Japan, 1% from Oceania and 10% from other regions.

The Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP) saw a total of around 500 meetings while locations show BIFCOM reported more than 400 meetings.

Taking in feedback about the split venues last year, PPP meetings were brought under the same roof as the sales offices in the Seacloud Hotel. But participants noted that the PPP set-up of having two to three project teams in each room was not conducive to productive, free-talking meetings.

The Asian Film Market also announced that next year it will launch a new online market screening system and hold a producers’ workshop with EAVE (European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs). During the market period, CJ Entertainment (Korea) and T-Joy (Japan) also announced the launch of a joint venture.

Asian Film Market deals include:

Japanese studio Toei sold A Good Husband to Taiwan’s Bees Factory Entertainment.

Taiwan’s Joint Entertainment sold KJ: Music & Life to Jin Jin Pictures of Korea

Korea’s Mirovision sold Deathbell to KRCG for Japan and Thailand, and to Elephant Film for France. The Loner was sold to KRCG for Thailand.

Korea’s CJ Entertainment sold Good Morning President and Killer Bride’s Perfect Crime to Catchplay for Taiwan

Korea’s Indiestory sold Old Partner to Swallow Wing Films for Taiwan and One Dollar Productions for HK/China.

Taiwan’s Double Edge sold Hachiko and Smother to Korea’s Cinaste (see separate story).