Rome’s Business Street confirmed its position on the autumn festival ­calendar as it closed this week, reporting a 16% increase in attendance and gathering support from the European arthouse market.

The fourth edition drew 280 buyers and 90 sellers from 51 countries, including a rising number from Asia and Latin America.

Together with the New Cinema Network’s (NCN) co-production market, it also attracted 250 producers and the NCN organised 950 co-production meetings.
With positive reports from sales agents that negotiations took place at the market, some have suggested that Rome may become more relevant to a certain type of European film than the American Film Market, traditionally a key event for the whole industry.

“This is the first time in 19 years that we’ve decided not to attend the AFM,” said Carey Fitzgerald, managing director of UK sales company High Point Media Group. “It appears that Italy [through Rome] is re-emerging as the autumn place to do business for European films.”

Eric Lagesse, president of French distributor Pyramide, said he also expected fewer European sellers to travel to Santa Monica. He added that, for the first time, he was not attending and neither was Pyramide’s sales team because of a lack of buyers for the kind of films it handles.

For the first time, no local Italian sellers ― with the exception of Film Export Group ― are attending AFM. Business Street organisers say the market aims to complement, rather than compete with, the rest of the calendar.

Bac Film’s Gilles Sousa closed deals on Hidden Diary with Japan (Alcine Terran) and Taiwan (Khan Entertainment) after its run in Pusan.

Meanwhile, Italian sales company Rai sold its Rome competition title Alza La Testa to Benelux, and concluded sales, which began at Cannes, with five territories for Barbarossa ― Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Russia and Benelux.

Sousa said: “We are buying, so it’s still the reason to go [to AFM], but European companies might save the money and wait for Berlin.”