New UK features may be absent from the festival, but the Croisette is flooded with low-budget films financed by British tax incentives. While grateful for the influx of money, local industry figures are wondering whether such projects are coming together far too hastily - and sacrificing quality as a result.

The deluge of product at Cannes comes after financiers raced into production early this year to meet the end of the tax year in April and qualify for the UK's 100% tax breaks - which at the time many feared were to be scrapped altogether.

At this market alone, sales outfit Vine International has boarded five titles from Evolution Films, while Park Entertainment has unveiled a slate of pictures from Little Wing Films. Both are amongst the most active companies in the new breed of tax-driven financiers with the private cash to fully fund production.

On the drama Silent Cry, Little Wing contacted writer Simon Lubert in October after spotting the project on, an internet website for spec scripts. Production started only three months later in January. 'They were desperate to find something worth making,' said Lubert. 'How it happened so quickly, I'll never know.'

Although Lubert had been working on his script for two years, many fear that financiers are neglecting development in their desire to write off tax on their investments. Certainly, few want to fund development, preferring to board projects just before production.

Robert Jones, head of the Premiere Fund for commercially-oriented films at UK support body the Film Council, commented: 'The lack of good material is a perennial problem and going into production without being properly developed is a perennial problem, but the more money out there for production rather than development, the longer the problem will continue to exist.'

While the UK breathed a sigh of relief when the tax breaks were extended this year, financiers cannot relax yet. Funding houses are now in holding patterns as they report that they are being given a particularly tough examination by the culture department as it processes this year's applications for tax relief.

'[The government] has had a second look at many details,' said Charlie Savill, co-founder of Little Wing, which has a slate of films pending government approval. 'They have come back and asked questions, which we have answered.'

The amount of cash used for TV production such as popular soap operas has raised eyebrows, but the rise of cast and crew deferrals - against which financiers claim tax relief as well the production's cash budget - seems to be the most contentious aspect. A moderate level is now the norm on projects fully-funded by tax-based financing, but schemes such as the one operated by Evolution have set deferments at three or four times cash budgets.