Cannesmay have been slim pickings for American buyers, but business was refreshinglybrisk for the rest of the world.

Pre-sellswere particularly buoyant, with international buyers snapping upmodestly-budgeted pictures in commercial genres such as Summit's The Alibi and The Dark, Nu Image/Millennium's Edison,Focus' Assault On Precinct 13 andEuropa's Revolver. With budgets kepttight and plenty of soft money sloshing around internationally, many companiesare happily financing projects without a US deal.

"Therehas been a better selection of films to pre-buy than there has been in threeyears," said Zygi Kamasa, co-founder of Redbus in the UK, one of the busiestterritories. "Sellers are being more realistic and films have competitivebudgets. Budgets can be 25% or 50% less than two or three years ago."

Cannesalso saw leading filmmakers such as Terry Gilliam and Neil Jordan returning tothe indie fold to set up edgier fare at a fraction of their customary budgetsat studios.

"Didthe world become more conservative in the last few years'" wondered Jordan ashe announced Pathe's Breakfast On Pluto."It seems only now that people are making more adventurous projects. Maybethings are looking up."

Althoughgenre pictures such as thrillers and horror were prevalent, the odd perioddrama sparked interest. Amongst the highest profile titles, UK producer AlisonOwen was re-structuring Tuilp Feveras an independent production at a scaled down budget of up to £20m.

Andalthough there was a dearth of new mega-budget productions, the biggest film onthe market, Gilliam's Brothers Grimm,was closing deals with Germany and France.

Inthe acquisitions market, smaller US buyers such as Thinkfilm were active, butstudio classics divisions kept their cheque-books closed. "It is mind-bogglingthat nothing has happened at all," said one US buyer "We've seen a lot ofinteresting films but they are for the specialist market. There's very littlewith any real break-out potential. The films have been just one step too shy ofbeing able to make it in the US at the box-office."

Itwas a different story for the rest of the world, however, with the only reallyweak market being Spain. Sellers reported that Asia was particularly brisk.

Keyrecent deals saw Lakeshore sell Clint Eastwood picture Million Dollar Baby to France's Studiocanal, the UK'sEntertainment, Japan's Movie Eye, Spain's Filmax, Italy's RAI and VillageRoadshow for Australia and New Zealand.

Elsewhere,the UK's Momentum Pictures joined its Spanish sister company Aurum in boardingOdyssey's animation film Happily N'EverAfter. Element X sold Kevin Spacey picture Beyond The Sea to Gaga in Japan and Solo Film in Germany. AnotherUK-based company, Intamden, pre-sold Bille August's Return To Sender to such buyers as Atlas in Germany, Bridge inBenelux, Italy's DNC and Portugal's Lusomundo.

Somebuyers were disappointed with festival titles, but Critics Week film Brodeuses stirred up interest. FlachPyramide sold the film to Paradiso in Benelux, Bim in Italy and Folkets Bio inSweden, while Italy's Lady Films took Flach Pyramide's competition title Exils.

EmirKusturica's competition title Life Is AMiracle also went, with Wild Bunch closing deals, with Concorde in Germanyand Japan's Gaga.

MichaelWinterbottom's real-life sex film 9 Songs- the most controversial film at Cannes after Fahrenheit 9/11 - was also selling well for Wild Bunch. Revolver inItaly, Benelux's Paradiso, Switzerland's Frenetic and Greece's Audiovisualpicked up the film. Having spent days being hounded by journalists, producerAndrew Eaton joked that it was time to make a sequel.

NancyTartaglione, Liz Shackleton and Darcy Paquet contributed to this report.