Talk to buyers at this year's market and you'll find that they like the films on offer - but find it difficult to rave about their commercial prospects.

In fact, scarcely any film from either the Berlin festival or the European Film Market has been able to unite buyers in a truly positive fashion.

"Hardly a single film on Screen International's critics poll has received four stars. It is really unusual that nobody has found anything they really, really like," said Willmar Anderson, the veteran who operates as buyer's rep for the Nordic region.

"Apart from the real disappointments like the Boorman, the films are generally not bad, but not extraordinary either. Everyone is waiting until the last minute before they make the deals, just in case something else shows up. Many of the films are so dark, that they need a lot of critical backing," said Mattias Nohrborg, managing director of Triangel Film, who picked up Trust Films' In Your Hands for Sweden after he had talked to enthusiastic Swedish critics about it.

"I've seen a lot of talent on display, but so far not much which will play to US audiences," said Lee Magiday, vice president, acquisitions Europe at Focus Features.

'Playability' was an issue for many others too. "[Competition film] Primo Amore was one of the best I've seen, it is an interesting story and it is very well acted. But it is simply too dark," said Patrizia Raeli, head of acquisitions at year-old Dutch distributor Bright Angel.

"Everything has been dour and downbeat. I'm longing to see something funny. There has been too much navel gazing," said Metrodome's Ben Roberts. Metrodome, which will release Monster in the UK.

Arguably the only consensus film to date is Eytan Fox' Panorama opener Walk On Water, which has kept buyers buzzing for days. Its sales agent Celluloid Dreams has refused to sign deals on the film, preferring to wait until the AFM. "This is a generational film, with a nonchalant tone offering lots of marketing hooks. As a result we have offers from all our loyal art-house buyers and interest from many larger companies. We will go to the AFM holding three or four offers for each territory," said Hengameh Panahi, Celluloid chief.

Reflecting the buyers commercial worries about what they have seen so far one of the hottest films is playing only in the market: Les Choristes, a 1948-set drama about a tough boarding school and the power of music. Directed in conventional fashion by Christophe Barratier, the film screened in the market on Monday and created a flurry of interest from European and US distributors for the French wing of Pathe International.

Cineclick Asia reported that mid-way through the press screening of Kim Ki Duk's competition film Samarian Girl Japanese buyers rushed out to make offers. Cineclick boss closed with one, Happiness, at a "good price". It also sold the film to Wild Side for France, Rapid Eye for Germany, and Mikado for Italy."

Other films with strong interest may be otherwise unavailable. One of the best liked Patrice Leconte's Intimate Strangers (handled by StudioCanal) had been widely sold prior to Berlin. The same also applies to Theo Angelopoulos's Weeping Meadow, which is effectively sold out.

(Geoffrey Macnab and Jacob Neiiendam contributed to this article)