With just two days left to go at Rotterdam's CineMart, a number of key projects are emerging as hot titles in the co-production market. They include Cristi Puiu's Aurora & Home Sweet Home, his new in a series of suburban stories; Koen Mortier's 22nd Of May about a dull man caught up in a bombing; Jafar Panahi's Return about two soldiers at the end of the Iran-Iraq war; Jorien van Nes' Human Race about a Dutch TV producer who films an extreme TV programme in Africa; Michel Lipkes' Friccion, about a lonely Mexico City man who kidnaps a couple; Mia Hansen-Love's Le pere des mes enfants, about a French film producer driven to desperate measures; and Ernesto Contreras' Las Oscuras Primaveras, his follow-up to recent Sundance prize winner Blue Eyelids.

About 800 people are attending CineMart this year, according to CineMart head Marit van den Elshout. 'We try not to increase that number,' she told ScreenDaily.com. 'We keep it selective.' Companies attending CineMart for the first time include Four Films (Chile), Angel AS (Denmark), and Jean Labadie's new Le Pacte (France).

CineMart, celebrating its 25th edition this year, kicked off on Sunday and wraps on Thursday. Even with the important anniversary, CineMart is keen to innovate.

Rotterdam held a 'D-Day' seminar on Sunday, a sort of brainstorming session about the future of the film business and how CineMart may need to change and evolve in coming years. 'There are a lot of new platforms and distribution models being discussed,' van den Elshout said. 'There are even platforms for financing films online, such as open-source funding of films. So we'll discussion getting new financiers to Rotterdam in coming years. It's important to innovate.'

She was quick to point out, however, that the core of Rotterdam's CineMart project selections wouldn't be cast aside. 'You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater,' she quipped.

Indeed, CineMart has one of the highest production rates of any co-production market - at about 80% made within five years of being pitched at CineMart. From the class of 2007, some highlights include David Verbeek's Shanghai Trance in this year's Rotterdam Tiger competition; Kim Ki-Duk's Breath with a Cannes 2007 premiere; Francois Rotger's Story of Jen, Pablo Aguero's Salamander, and Pipilotti Rist's Pepperminta in post-production; Mijke de Jong's Katia's Little Sister and Alexis Dos Santos' Unmade Beds shooting now; and Jorgen Bergmark's A Rational Solution to start shooting in April.

Also Rik Vermeulen in the IFFR's Film Office (formerly known as the Industry Office) said the industry side of the festival continues to grow, with 2008 proving the busiest year yet. The Film Office itself has now grown to 10 staffers.

Rotterdam's opening-night film Lamb Of God (Cordero De Dios) by Lucia Cedron has been snapped up by Cinemien for Benelux. The Argentine drama has proved popular with festival audiences, ranked third in the audience vote so far (behind Persepolis and My Brother Is An Only Child).

A number of sales outfits have taken on Rotterdam titles for international sales. Memento Films has come on board for El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia by Chile's Jose Luise Torres Leiva; Insomnia has taken on Huseyin Karabey's My Marlon and Brando; new German sales outfit M-Appeal is handling Andrzej Jakimowski's Tricks, Ben van Lieshout's The Muse, and Alexis Alexiou's Tale 52, and just before Rotterdam, Wide Management came on for Mahmoud al Massad's Recycle.

As previously reported in Screen, High Point has taken on Pieter Kuijper's Nothing To Lose (TBS) - also an audience hit here - and EastWest has come on board to represent Klaus Hundsbichler's Worldrevolution.

The festival continues until Feb 3.