The Berlinale kicked off in fine style with Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary Shine A Light but after several days the general consensus was that - at least for buyers - the festival line-up was in danger of being upstaged by the market.

Focus inevitably turned to the EFM following a perceived lack of mainstream appeal in festival entries and the fact that a number of competition titles had been viewed in advance or pre-sold.

'Freshness guaranteed,' EFM chief Beki Probst promised early in the week, and her words were borne out as all the major sales companies reported strong business.

Buyers were buzzing about titles being presold at the market, which has now graduated into an event where big new US titles were getting their first airing with buyers.

Ironically two of the world's biggest film-makers - Steven Soderbergh and Oliver Stone - were in town to talk up their films in the market, not the festival. Soderbergh was here for his two-picture Che Guevera biopic at Wild Bunch, Stone for his George Bush film Bush at QED.

And Paramount Vantage International created a flurry of interest going into the market with select territories being offered on Martin Scorsese's upcoming thriller Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Big prices were paid on that film for Germany, Spain and Italy - territories in which Paramount does not yet have its own post-UIP PPI operations - although the studio refused to name the distributors.

Scorsese also announced a new Bob Marley documentary on offer at Fortissimo which was drumming up swift sales.

Other hot titles in the market included Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell at Mandate which Universal bought for much of the world and Alex Proyas' Knowing at Summit, although that film goes through Summit's own output deals in select territories.

* Meanwhile IFTA president Jean Prewitt dismissed a report yesterday that her organisation would set up an AFM outpost at next year's Berlin. 'That's inaccurate,' Prewitt said. 'Members not in the Martin Gropius Bau were very concerned about the lack of space in the 'official' building and about the extraordinary price jumps in the main hotels. We were able to brief them on [EFM chief Beki Probst's] plan to add a further official space near to the Martin Gropius Bau and to encourage them to continue to make their concerns known to her as those plans move forward.'