Now in its second year as a fully fledged market, Pusan's Asian Film Market (October 8-11) is still relatively small and takes place at one of the busiest times of the year - but is already considered a key event by many international buyers and sellers.
In its first edition last year, the market drew 3,500 participants and proved itself useful as the first opportunity for the pan-Asian film industry to meet and do business since Cannes. Like Hong Kong's Filmart, which takes place at the end of March, the event is strongly focused on East Asian product, but Asia-focused buyers say they welcome a second market in the region.
'It's a great opportunity, as is Filmart, to catch up on the latest films - particularly as films are completed so quickly in Asia,' says Jane Giles, head of acquisitions for the UK's Tartan Films. 'The timing is perfect because there's a six-month gap with Filmart and you can focus on Asian product before the (Los-Angeles-based) AFM.'
Also working in the market's favour is the fact it runs parallel with the long-established and highly respected projects market, Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP). This year's edition - PPP's tenth anniversary - features 35 projects from 18 countries, including some from beyond Asia.
'Along with HAF in Hong Kong, Pusan's co-production market is one of the most interesting ones, so we always go along to track new projects and get to know the film-makers,' says Tobias Pausinger of German sales agent The Match Factory.
This year's PPP line-up includes Fruit Chan's English-language remake of J-horror hit Don't Look Up; Tsotsi producer Peter Fudakowski's The Secret Sharer; and US-South Africa co-production The Sea Of Tranquility, to be directed by Michael Kang.
However, as always with fledgling markets, timing remains an issue and the Asian Film Market fights for space in a crowded calendar. This year, the market has avoided last year's clash with the Rome Film Fest, but takes place at the same time as Mipcom (October 8-12). As a result, some of the more TV-focused Asian sellers have opted to skip Korea and set up their sales booth in France.
Last year's edition also had a different kind of space issue - due to a shortage of lifts to the sales floors in the Grand Hotel market venue. This resulted in some hasty, unscheduled meetings between buyers and sellers who found themselves crammed together in the lifts. However, market organisers say they have resolved the problem this year by providing two direct-stop elevators between the hotel lobby and sales offices.
Which is just as well, as this year's market looks set to be well attended. At the time of writing, around 90 sales offices had been booked in the Grand Hotel, including large contingents of sellers from Korea, Japan and south-east Asia.
The market has also been striving to attract US and European sellers and this year has sizeable delegations from the UK and France. Among UK sales companies set to attend are Bankside Films, Donus Films and Odyssey Entertainment, while the French delegation includes Celluloid Dreams, Roissy Films, Memento Films International and Wide Management.
'We realise the market is focused on Asian films and sales companies. But as we're in our first year, we want to meet new Asian buyers and do business with them,' says Bankside's director of sales and marketing, Stephen Kelliher. 'The Korean market is difficult because local product is so strong, and US films take up the rest of the box office. But it's a big market and it is still possible to sell to Korea and also Japan.'
While it is early days for the market, its future looks assured thanks to strong backing from the city of Busan, which is trying to mould the seaside tourist centre and container port into the film capital of Korea.
Another grumble from weary buyers last year was that the main screening venue, the Primus Cinema, was too far from the Grand Hotel. But all such teething troubles should be resolved when the market and festival move into a purpose-built centre - though additional finance for the Busan city-backed venture is still being raised - by 2010.