Busan’s Asian Film Market wrapped yesterday with a 23% increase on registered badge holders to 1,566, marked by strong participation from Chinese companies.

The market ran Oct 5-8 in the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO).

Organizers report China’s largest online video platform iQiyi signed exclusive rights for approximately 40 Lotte Entertainment films and 50 Finecut titles.

Following the recently signed Korea-China co-production agreement, iQiyi for the first time sponsored a China Night reception during the market while Heyi Film & Youku Tudou sponsored the market’s closing night reception as well as a new award in the Asian Project Market.

European Film Promotion (EFP) opened its largest stand ever in Busan, combined with Unifrance this year. Although foot traffic in general was quiet throughout the market, sellers with films in the festival and with market screenings were busy with meetings, mostly on the second day.

“This is the very first time Rai has been to Busan. I’m happy to be here as there are maybe two Italian films per year in Korea. It’s quite a tough market. We’re tentatively scouting Asian distributors that don’t travel more from Korea and Southeast Asia. I met some new companies and am happy about that. I’m happy to have come, especially since we have three films in the festival,” said Catia Rossi, sales agent at Italy’s Rai Trade.

The market screened 85 films from 15 countries, 96 times in total this year. Of these, 17 titles were in the Busan International Film Festival line-up. Market premieres went up from 60 last year to 67. Online screenings are being held until Oct 31 for 297 films including 202 festival films.

Yuan Yuan Sui, Sales & Acquisition exec at Picture Tree International, which had three market screenings and Therapy For Vampire in the festival’s World Cinema section, said their market screenings were ‘really successful’.

“I had lots of meetings and we have some oral deals to catch up after the market. The contracts will maybe take another two months, but we shook hands on the basic terms,” she said.

“I think I would come back next year. Last year was really great, but this year is not quite so well organized. I’m not the only one who complained,” she said, noting issues with the hotel, badge pick-up, and shuttle delays because of a marathon that ran on Sunday, Oct 5, the first day of the market.

“But the hospitality is still amazing,” she said.

She and other returning participants also experienced some confusion when they went to BEXCO’s Exhibition Center I as in previous years only to find a boat show. This year’s Asian Film Market was held in Exhibition Center II, which is a whole other building right next door.

Major Japanese companies such as Toho, Shochiku, Toei and Nikkatsu were in Busan as well, despite the upcoming Tokyo market which starts Oct 20.

“Some buyers do Cannes and Busan and some do only Tokyo and the American Film Market, but not the others, so we come to both in general,” said Akihiro Takeda, general manager at Toho Film Co. (HK).