US distributors Zeitgeist and Kino International, Sweden's Nonstop Entertainment, Brazil's Imovision, Spain's Lolafilms and Poland's Best Film are among a raft of international buyers attending the Locarno International Film Festival for the first time this year.

Nadia Dresti of the festival's Industry Office told Screen Daily that acquisition executives from Japan's Crest International, the Czech Republic's Artcam, Russia's Pan Terra, Finland's Finnkino Oy, Israel's United King Flim, and France's ID Distribution will also be Locarno debutants.

"By ensuring the presence of such qualified distributors, the Industry Office provides a genuine sales window for producers with titles screening during the Festival", Dresti explained.

Last year, the Silver Leopard-winning Tan De Repente (Suddenly) was acquired for international sales by Flach Pyramide and sold on to various European territories within a matter of hours, while world rights for Belgian competition entry Meisje (A Girl) by Dorothee van den Berghe were picked up by Media Luna. Esther van Messel's First Hand Films also did brisk business with Andrea Maria Dusl's feature debut Blue Moon.

The Industry Office will be organising a symposium with the directors of the MonteCinemaVerita Foundation, the Hubert Bals Fund, the Goeteborg Film Festival Film Fund, and Fonds Sud to bring buyers into direct contact with film production in the Southern Hemisphere to encourage investment in future projects.

In addition, the Office will continue its partnership with the Paris-based producers training programme ACE, with the focus this year on Swiss producers as a way of preparing them for the long-awaited entry into Europe.

At the same time, the Industry Office has attracted the support of the Torino Piemonte Film Commission for the hosting of the daily Happy Business Hours on a steamer moored on the shore of Lake Maggiore where producers and buyers can mix business with pleasure.