The TokyoInternational Film Festival's contents market, TIFFCOM, concluded its thirdedition yesterday evening after a three-day run.

Approximately 460registered buyers attended this year's market, a 30% increase over last year.They visited a combined total of 163 companies (versus 131 in 2005) throughoutthe 40th floor of Roppongi Hills Mori Tower.

While domesticsellers outnumbered foreign in 2005, this year's booths were evenly divided aswell as being integrated throughout the venue, whereas last year domestic andforeign were kept separate.

Despite theincrease in numbers, some participants felt the market wasn't well attendedenough, and weren't convinced of its usefulness coming on the heels of Pusan'sAsian Film Market and just before the key Los Angeles-based American FilmMarket.

"It's too closeto Pusan and AFM, and I see the same buyers as last year. It would be better ifmore European buyers attended, but they prefer AFM," said Sara Law, VP ofdistribution at Hong Kong's Mei Ah Entertainment. "But if our films target aJapanese audience, we get a good response here."

"It was quiteslow this year, and there weren't enough buyers from outside of Asia," said arepresentative from TBS, one of Japan's major TV networks and film producers.

In the case ofTaiwanese companies, half of the fees to attend the market are covered under anew government program. "There aren't enough buyers, but Japan is a big importantmarket so we decided to set up a booth," said TLF Production's Starr Wu.

However, fordomestic companies, TIFFCOM is a key event. "Not a lot of Asian buyers attendAFM and Pusan is good for meeting Korean buyers, but overall TIFFCOM is thebest place for us to meet Asian buyers," said Tadayuki Okubo, manager ofinternational sales and purchasing for Japanese major Toei.

This year alsosaw more diversity in the type of companies participating, extending to videogames, animation and publishing. Pixar set up a booth and gave presentations topromote their RenderMan product, the software behind hits Toy Story, Cars and TheIncredibles.

"We wanted tosupport our resellers in Japan. It was worth coming, but the presentationsweren't as well attended as we would have liked. Customers of our resellersdidn't want to pay the TIFFCOM entrance fee to see our presentation. If thatcan be worked out next year, we would definitely attend again. This year waslike a trial run for us," said Pixar RenderMan marketing representative ReneeLamri.

The concurrentTokyo Project Gathering (TPG), also concluded itssecond edition after a four-day run (Oct 22-25). Twenty-eight projects from 14countries were presented to potential investors on the event's first day, withpresenters given five minutes to outline their projects using video, images,text and spoken explanations. Interested parties could then meet with film-makersand producers during three following days of open meetings.

Compared withlast year's Japan-centric selection, this year's TPG aimed to appeal to a widervariety of investors. "It's much better than last year. The projects are moreinternational and diversified," said producer Christine Iso (The Ring, Eight Below) of PacificaInternational, who is in negotiations with one project.

News of aninvestment deal struck came on the final day of the event. Producer Ann Carli (Brother, Fast Food Nation) of LosAngeles-based Fuzzy Bunny Films will invest in omnibus drama Hachi Honey, based on a novel by famed authorBanana Yoshimoto.

"At other filmmarkets there are mainly paper proposals, but at TPG filmmakers give a visualpresentation which can show what they're capable of creating and make it easierand more interesting for investors to understand their project, regardless ofhow well-known their name is," said TPG director Hiroaki Uchiyama.

TIFFCOMco-organizer UniJapan also staged the latest installment of its J-Pitchproject, a year-long program which assists Japanese producers interested ininternational co-productions through periodic development workshops, casestudies and consultation sessions with experienced producers. The TIFFCOM J-Pitch session, co-organised by Tokyo's 100 MeterFilms, marked the third for the inaugural 22 feature film projects.

TIFFCOM also heldseveral business seminars on topics including "Independent Feature CareerPath," "Korea-Japan Visual Content Forum" and "The Rise of Asia in the GlobalFilm Market." The latter's panel included Satoru Iseki, producer of upcomingpan-Asian epic Battle Of Wits, Seven Swords producer Nansun Shi andformer Fox Filmed Entertainment CEO Bill Mechanic, who also is also serving onTIFF's jury. TIFFCOM also encompassed a one-day Location Market.

TIFF continuesthrough Sunday, Oct 29.