The Bangkok Film Market (July 23-25) is all set to open its doors for business with about 60 confirmed exhibiting companies and 800 pre-registered buyers, according to Surasak Sunpituksaree, secretary-general of the Federation of National Film Association.

The federation has been assigned by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) as organisers of this year's event, which takes place in Royal Paragon Hall at the Siam Paragon entertainment complex, in conjunction with the Bangkok International Film Festival.

As with previous editions, TAT has lured exhibitors this year with free booths, but the usual complimentary flight and hotel treatments have been withdrawn due to budget cuts. The package for buyers includes only free hotels, but not flights.

An obvious drop in foreign sellers is recorded. Among the few Asian companies are MD Pictures from Indonesia, Vietnam Media, Okinawa Digital Motion from Japan and Hong Kong-based Golden Network.

The event will see a strong Thai contingent which represents the majority of the sellers. These include producers-distributors Box Office Entertainment, De Warrenne Pictures, Film Frame, Five Star, GMM Tai Hub, Kantana, Mono Film, Phranakorn Film, Right Beyond, RS and Sahamongkolfilm.

A string of Thai post-production houses and production services coordinators will also be out in full force.

'To facilitate business, we put buyers and sellers in touch with each other and let them exchange information prior to the market. We hope this new initiative will help them close deals during the market,' says Surasak who was a former senior executive at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre where he oversaw many major events such as the 10th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2000.

The market will be divided into five zones, namely location world, international village, equipment and post-production pavilion, animation and digital entertainment world and Thailand pavilion.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok International Film Festival kicks off tomorrow (July 19) with the opening gala of Children Of Glory.