'It has been a mixed bag this year' was market director Beki Probst's verdict on the 2009 edition of the European Film Market (EFM) which finally closed its doors on February 13.

'Some people would say it was good, some better than what they expected and some that it was not good,' observed Probst in an exclusive interview with Screen Daily. 'In a way, I think we have had that kind of reaction in other years. Only, this year you have the cloud of the whole world [economic] situation. I must be very frank that it has been not an easy one this year, but I am confident that we provided the infrastucture even if not everything might have been perfect.'

Probst said that the various innovations introduced this year such as the second market venue at the Marriott Hotel, the Meet The Docs and the Industry Debates had been accepted by the professionals.

'For most of the people, the Marriott was much better than the previous EFM Business Offices [at Potsdamer Platz 11],' Probst continued, adding that an 'independent and objective' journalist had been hired by the EFM to gather feedback from the exhibitors with stands or offices in the Marriott.

Probst said that she had been 'agreeably surprised' by the good attendance for the three Industry Debates given the demands on accredited professionals' time at the festival.

Although this year's edition of the EFM was notable for its lack of real buzz titles, Probst pointed out that her conversations with international buyers had often seen certain Competition titles being mentioned such as Iranian Asghar Farhadi's About Elly, Rachid Bouchareb's London River, and Richard Loncraine's My One And Only or the Berlinale Special presentatiions of Lone Scherfig's second English language film An Education and Florian Gallenberger's story of the 'Oskar Schindler of China', John Rabe.

In addition, a number of Panorama titles were on buyers' lips, including Norwegian director Rune Denstad Langlo's feature debut North which won the FIPRESCI Award for Best Film in the Panorama section and shared the Europa Cinemas Label with French director Philippe Lioret's Welcome about a swimming instructor illegally training an Iraqi refugee to swim across the English Channel.

Described by Screen International critic David D'Arcy as 'a darkly charming Norwegian story', screenwriter Erlend Loe's story of a former athlete's return to reality after a mental breakdown generated 'a real bidding war between European buyers', according to the sales agent Memento Films International.

North has been licensed so far to 10 territories, including Germany (Alamode), France (Bodega), Italy (Sacher), Benelux (Amstelfilm), Switzerland (Xenix), Greece (Rosebud) and Portugal (Mides).

Meanwhile, looking beyond this year's festival and market, Probst was guarded about making any specific comments on her future as market director for the EFM. 'We will see what happens,' she suggested with an enigmatic smile.