Asian companies are out in force at TIFFCOM.

TIFFCOM is the gateway to a Tokyo that is getting back to business. The eighth annual co-production market is taking place in the year Japan’s first international co-production subsidy was announced in June and comprehensive contents rights handler All Nippon Entertainment Works is launched this October.

Under director Mika Morishita, now in her third year heading the market, TIFFCOM is growing in size and scope. “To accommodate year-on-year exhibitor increases we’ve upped booth numbers by 15% to 124,” says Morishita.

The expanded UniJapan Entertainment Forum industry seminars (October 24-28) and reworked project market are further reasons for the international industry to fit the event into the crowded autumn calendar.

While international exhibitors and attendees, specifically Westerners, may be down in numbers due to persistent earthquake and radiation fears, TIFFCOM is attracting new and notable local and international participants, with 13 Japanese and 23 overseas first-time exhibitors this year.

Morishita attributes the increase to the consolidation of TIFFCOM and UniJapan this April as well as increased outreach at other major festivals such as the Japan Pavilion, which was set up at both the Hong Kong and Cannes film festivals.

“We’ve strengthened both our inbound and outbound relationships,” explains Morishita, who also goes on promotional trips to Singapore, Berlin and Beijing.

New participants this year include the UK’s BBC and Hat Trick Productions under the umbrella of the British embassy of Tokyo. Following a Canadian embassy event in March to promote the country’s locations to Japanese producers, funding agency Telefilm Canada will also be at TIFFCOM for the first time.

Locally, renowned animation house Production I.G, producer of the Ghost In The Shell franchise and recent Toronto world premiere A Letter To Momo, is another newcomer.

“Production I.G has been traditionally strong in the European and North American markets, but in handling more titles for Asia, such as Blood-C and Appleseed XIII, we felt we needed to improve our network in the region,” says the company’s international rep Francesco Prandoni. “TIFFCOM was the right platform to start from.”

Indeed, Asia is becoming more interdependent. The competition that existed in the early years between the TIFFCOM and Busan markets is no longer.

“We’re friends, not competitors. Korean and Japanese industry collaboration is on the rise,” says Morishita. Accordingly, Korea has the highest number of booths after Japan.

Last month, Toei studios launched acquisitions label Tryangle, focusing on big Asian titles. International manager Tadayuki Okubo recapped its TIFFCOM dealings: “It’s been good for Asian sales over the past few years. We started pre-sales of Battle Royale 3D, Wasao and Zebraman 2 there and closed deals with Taiwan, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries. This year we’ll be checking out potential titles for Tryangle.”