Two thirds of the way through the Rotterdam festival, Niki Caro's Whale Rider was streets ahead in the polls for the Canal Plus public prize.

The film, which was previously an audience favourite in Toronto, appears in Rotterdam's main programme and received nearly three time as many votes as The Magdalene Sisters, currently lying in second and Cristina Comencini's The Best Day Of My Life (Il Piu Bella Giorno Della Mia Vita).

Among the slightly more auteur offerings in the Tiger Competition section, Marion Bridge by Wiebke von Carolsfeld was leading the public polls ahead of Dagur Kari's Noi Albinoi.

While the festival is not known as a major market for finished film - in contrast to its CineMart section's leading position as a project market - buyers have got excited about the Lucas Belvaux trilogy An Amazing Couple (Un Couple Epatant), On The Run (Cavale) and After Life (Apres La Vie) which were sold to Metro Tartan for the UK. Other deals are imminent for the US, Germany and Italy.

French director Jean-Claude Brisseau, who is the subject of a Rotterdam tribute, also saw his latest effort Chose Secretes, snapped up.