The Paris Screenings(Rendez-Vouz du Cinema Français) (21-24 Jan) ended yesterday with sellers incautiously optimistic mood and a culture minister set on rolling back thebarriers to business development.

At a cocktail reception atthe Musee d'Orsay, minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres left little doubt thathe will stand up to more conservative elements of the French productioncommunity and change the national subsidy system.

"We need to apply symmetryto ourselves and recognise films of French expression funded by foreigncapital," he said. The Jean-Pierre Jeunet film A Very Long Engagementand the Josiane Balasko picture L'Ex Femme De Ma Vie both lost theirFrench national status last year when a court ruled that the production companybehind them 2003 Productions was controlled by a foreign power, Warner Bros.

Donnedieu De Vabres alsosaid that he wants the IFCIC (Institut pour le Financement du Cinema et desIndustries Culturelle) fund to be opened up to aid distribution of Europeanfilms outside their national borders.

The four day screeningsmarket, now in its seventh year, saw modest levels of buying activity, but ahigh degree of window shopping and preparation for forthcoming events.

"This is the first time thatit has felt like a real market," said Florence Stern, sales executive at MK2.

"We have seen all thecompanies we would expect, but the bigger firms have their top buyers atSundance and were not taking decisions here. We expect them to close deals atBerlin. Berlin is going to be huge."

She struck deals onRendez-Vous-screened film Mon Ange with VO Cines for Colombia andVenezuela.

The same company was alsobuying from Latido-Vision International, which was handling Incautos.Vision also sold period piece Unconscious to Filmoteca Nacional forVenezuela and Eurocine for Argentina. The film which showed at Sundance wasalso sold to Recent-Here! For the US. A deal with local French distributor HautEt Court was also said to be pending.

Buyers in attendance weresaid to number 350 with strong contingents from Latin America, Italy, Russiaand the UK. Italian buyers such as Bim's Valerio Di Paolis and Eagle Pictures'Maria Grazia Vairo said that the screenings were useful, but they were unlikelyto pick up much on the spot as Italy is currently such a competitive marketthat most imported films are nowadays being pre-bought at script stage.