Hong Kong Filmart closed on Friday (March 23) with organisers reporting a 20% increase in overseas visitors to 1,900, while the number of exhibitors was up 11% to 453 from more than 30 territories.

The number of overall visitors, including those from Hong Kong, had not been calculated by the closing day, although market organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC), said numbers were on a par with last year.

Although few major deals were announced, sales companies reported a flurry of mostly Asian sales from the second day of the market. Filmart appears to be consolidating its position as a platform to sell into Asia, while the European Film Market in Berlin is more geared towards selling to European buyers.

'This market has been busier than Berlin for us,' said Toei manager of international sales and purchasing Tadayuki Okubo. 'There are more buyers from Asia here and the number of European buyers is getting more and more each year.'

Delegates also welcomed the move to hold three events - Filmart, the Hong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) - at exactly the same time. 'Holding the festival at the same time as the market gave us a wonderful opportunity to showcase all aspects of French film. We hope the dates will coincide next year,' said Unifrance's China representative Christine Pernin.

However, starting all three events on exactly the same day resulted in schedules that were packed to bursting point with meetings, screenings, seminars and networking functions.

'This market is definitely growing and was busy as usual, but there were too many activities on the first few days,' said Golden Network Asia managing director Carrie Wong. 'We didn't have time to attend the seminars or hold any HAF meetings. The events could be a little more spread out.'

Some exhibitors also pointed out that the market is one of the most expensive in the world when you calculate how much it costs to rent a booth on a daily basis.

At the closing press conference, TDC assistant executive director Raymond Yip commented on the recent announcement that the Hong Kong government is setting up a $38.4m fund to support local film production. 'The details are still being worked out but the thinking is that this would be an equity investment fund to support small to medium sized films,' said Yip.

The TDC also unveiled the findings of a survey at the press conference which revealed that Hong Kong's top five most sellable directors are Andrew Lau (Confession Of Pain), Derek Yee (Protege), Jackie Chan, John Woo and Johnnie To. The top four sellable genres for Hong Kong movies are action/kung-fu, comedy, drama and horror.


* Hong Kong 's Mandarin Films sold Wilson Yip's $10m contemporary action adventure Flash Point to Vietnam 's Cinebox and India 's Indo Overseas Films.

*Japanese studio Toei sold Exte - Hair Extensions to Germany 's Rapid Eye Movies. The company also sold Exte to Hong Kong 's Universe Films Distribution along with two other titles - The Sword Of Alexander and war drama For Those We Love.

*French distributor ARP Selection acquired all rights to HKIFF opener Eye In The Sky from Fortissimo Films. Fortissimo also sold TV rights to Zhang Yang's Getting Home to German broadcaster Degeto Films.

* Malaysia 's Grand Brilliance picked up Gary The Tennis Coach, starring Sean William Scott, and Barry Munday, starring Luke Wilson and Emily Mortimer, from GreeneStreet Films International.

*New Korean importer/distributor Inmoa Entertainment acquired four pictures including The Black Dahlia from Nu Image, Taxi 4 produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp, Ewan McGregor-starrer Franklyn from HanWay and comedy Balls Of Fury from Focus Features.

* Korea 's K&Entertainment bought the remake rights to two Thai films, including romantic drama Me Myself from Mono Film and RS Film's horror hit The Victim.

*Japanese sales agent Kadokawa sold animated sequel Sergeant Keroro The Movie 2 to Thai distributor Rose Media & Entertainment.

*Korean sales agent iHQ sold martial arts fantasy Shadowless Sword to Indian distributor Viswas Film for the territories of Singapore and Malaysia.

*On the first day of the market, Taiwan 's CMC Entertainment sold gangster epic Blood Brothers to Hong Kong distributor Golden Scene.

* Korea 's CJ Entertainment pre-sold CJ-Kadokawa co-production Virgin Snow to Hwa Yea Multimedia for Malaysia, Box Office for Thailand and BHD for Vietnam. Box Office also pre-bought the comedy Small Town Rivals, while Malaysia's Hwa Yea pre-bought My Tutor Friend 2, the sequel to the box office hit comedy.

*CJ also locked down deals outside Asia. Martial arts fantasy The Restless sold to Trade Media for France; and horror films The Wig and Face, as well as the action film The Art Of Fighting, starring Lee Joon-ki, went to Borsalino for Latin America.

*Korean sales agent Lotte Entertainment sold three films to Thailand and Malaysia. Thailand 's J Bics picked up The Show Must Go On and the drama My Father. Hwa Yea Multimedia took My Father for Malaysia and also bought the romantic comedy Old Miss Diary. Thailand 's Box Office also acquired Old Miss Diary.

Deals round-up by Silvia Wong, Jean Noh and Sen-lun Yu.