Despite being sandwiched between MIPCOM and the AFM, and taking place at the same time as the Rome Film Festival, the market was busier than the recent Asian Film Market in Pusan. On the whole, however, most deals are waiting to be closed at the AFM.
The Tokyo Project Gathering (TPG, Oct 21-24) award went to Li Xinman's drama The Red Dragonfly from mainland China. Wang Wei, who recently worked on John Woo's Red Cliff, is producing.
'TPG was a good experience for a debuting director. We're very happy about the award and the meetings, and it's given [Li Xinman] confidence,' said Wang.
The film's story aims to reflect the reality of today's China and the spiritual and identity crises people go through looking for their roots.
TIFF chairman Tom Yoda proclaimed the TPG a success, with over 300 meetings, and also proclaimed a 30% increase inTIFFCOM attendance.
The market included seminars on co-production and remakes, although often with spotty coverage for English-language materials or English translation with organisers claiming they were mainly for the local industry.
At the market, exhibitors were predominantly Japanese with smatterings of other Asian companies, mostly including TV broadcasters, government organisations and locations commissions.
On the airy 40th floor of the Roppongi Hills complex, where the festival's main screenings and TPG are held, the exhibition space was steadily busy but not hectic on the first day, with meetings dying off slowly on the second and third days.
Although initially some Japanese sellers said they were resigned to the fact that they had to participate in the locally-organised event at a less than ideal time, when they needed to get ready for AFM, they were much more enthusiastic later in the market.
Toei international sales manager Tadayuki Okubo observed that the market is 'getting bigger and better each year, with more buyers'. His company in particular was busy with sales (see below). 'TIFFCOM has been very strong for us this year,' he said.
Notably more Taiwanese and Hong Kong buyers opted to come to Tokyo instead of Pusan and AFM.
The draw of the very modern metropolis was pointed out by more than a few buyers across the board, along with the fact that everything is well-organised and housed under one roof.
Japanese sellers noted that buyers from Korea, formerly a big territory for Japan, were warier of closing deals following the disappointing box office performance of Japanese films such as 20th Century Boys and Boys Over Flowers recently in Korea.
As for non-Japanese sellers: 'People come to TIFFCOM looking for specific content - namely Japanese films and animation, and it's a fairly busy place. So it's alright for meeting with local companies and if you come prepared with set meetings beforehand,' said Katherine Lee, senior vice president of distribution at Hong Kong-based Applause Pictures. 'I was also here for the Asian Producers Network, and that made it worthwhile.'
The Asian Producers Network (APN) in its third year held a conference around the market with producers from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore presenting their 60 members and 40-plus observers with information on the filmmaking and investment environments in their respective countries.
The APN holds its council meetings in a different member country each year, and elects a chairman from that country. Next year's meeting will be held in China, and Wang Zhonglei, head of Huayi Brothers Pictures, was elected chairman for 2009.
The UK Film Council also took an umbrella stand for the first time this year. Corinne Ranaraja, the UK Film Council's Export Development co-ordinator remarked: 'We had six companies here and they were quite busy with meetings in and around the market. I also think it was good for the producers to actually come, see and meet the industry here.'
* Nikkatsu sold TIFF competition title School Days With A Pig to Hong Kong's Edko Films.
* Toei sold all rights for The Shonen Merikensack, God's Puzzle, Flavor Of Happiness and Where The Legend Lives to Bees Factory for Taiwan.
* Toei sold Orochi, Chameleon and Flavor Of Happiness to Universe for Hong Kong
* Toei also soldChameleon and Partners: The Movie to AV-Jet for Taiwan.
* Asmik Ace sold comedy The Handsome Suit to Golden Harvest for Hong Kong and Macau; Serenity for Taiwan, and Encore for Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
* Klockworx sold Wild Racers to Right Beyond for Thailand.
* Klockworx also sold Secrets Of A Desperate Housewife and Private Secretary to Cinema Epock for US.
Jason Gray contributed to this report.