Pascal Diot to expand digital video library in 2013.

It has been a qualified thumbs up for the inaugural Venice Film Festival market, with delegates praising the event while also raising some concerns. Sellers have welcomed the Venice market as a prelude to Toronto - and, for some Europeans, even an alternative to the Canadian bazaar.

“In general, I think it is a super great idea to make a place for a market that unites European buyers,” said Kasia Karwan of French sales outfit Premium Films. “Yes, Toronto is known for gathering US buyers and sometimes it is complicated for European buyers to negotiate.” Here in Venice, Premium has been beginning sales on Jazmin Lopez’s Franco-Argentine coproduction Leones (screening in Orrizonti) and Hervé Lasgouttes’ Crawl (closing Venice Days.)

“It is two decades too late!” Coproduction Office CEO Philippe Bober joked of the market. He pointed out that the opportunity to create an event on the scale of an AFM or Berlin had long since gone. “It is a very good and logical idea to have a market in Venice but now it seems to have the function to prepare for Toronto.”

The delegates have welcomed the market organisers’ attempts to reduce their costs as far as possible by laying on food, drink and (in certain cases) accommodation. They’ve also relished the informality and intimacy of Venice.

“The conditions of the whole festival have become much better. The whole idea with Venice is to create a hype around a film and to start building a wave to continue to Toronto,” said Rikke Ennis, CEO of Scandinavian sales powerhouse TrustNordisk. “That’s what is important for us as a sales agent. The more platforms we have to sell a film, the better…if you have one shot and you show a film in Venice or Toronto alone, everything has to happen in five days and the pressure is so high.”

Frank Mannion of UK distributor/seller Swipe (which took on world sales rights on Egyptian movie Winter Of Discontent during the market) was also in upbeat mood. “I really hope that they continue it. For films like Winter Of Discontent and the more challenging foreign language movies that might get neglected elsewhere, the sort of distributors who’ve attended the market this year are exactly the type we are going to sell the film. There may be only 100 buyers but for our purposes and those of other sales agents selling foreign language films, this has been a great opportunity for everyone to meet in a very congenial atmosphere.”

However, Ennis expressed disappointment there wasn’t better information about which buyers attended which screenings.

Tinne Bral, Associate Manager of Benelux buyer Imagine, said that Venice “was perfect since I am here and my business partner will be in Toronto.” She predicted that the main business will still be done in Toronto. “But we can do good homework here.”

According to the organisers, 193 distributors and 66 sales agents have been on the Lido. In all, there were 1355 registered industry delegates. By the end of the weekend, 466 films had been watched in the digital video library.

In the course of the festival, deals struck include The Taipei Film Commission partnering with Rai Cinema, The Match Factory closing many deals on audience favourite Wadjda, and Films Distribution enjoying a robust market. “I am happy because that was my second aim, that deals would be signed here and that Venice should be again a place where you can do business,” said market boss Pascal Diot.

Next year, Diot is planning further to expand the Digital Video Library and to have more special screenings of first footage and promo reels.

The 2013 market will again be based in the luxurious surroundings of the Excelsior Hotel. Diot expects many more national institutions and trade organisations to set up stands.