HONG KONG — The buyers and exhibitors may have been underwhelmed by the first Filmart, the Hong Kong Intl. Film Market, but that didn’t deter organizers from announcing they’ll try again next year when the territory is a part of China.

“I’m confident it will grow,” said Michael Sze, executive director of the government’s Trade Development Council, organizers of the market, which closed June 13. Sze said 300-plus buyers showed up, as well as more than 70 exhibitors, mainly from Hong Kong and China. Some last-minute exhibitors had to be turned away due to space constraints, he added.

Some exhibitors acknowledged they were given discounts to take booths and some buyers and VIPs said they were brought in for the event. But that’s not unusual for a startup operation hoping to break into the big leagues.

Next year’s market will take place from June 24-26 at the convention center, the site of the upcoming handover ceremony. Sze said he has listened to participants’ demands for more international participation, more buyers and more screenings.

“Next year we’ll be better prepared,” he added.

“I thought it was a great start,” said Quinn Coleman, Warner Bros. manager for worldwide co-productions and acquisitions. He said he would like to see more participation from South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries that were missing.

Overall, most exhibitors said they found the market a good place to meet old friends, but not a place to seal deals.

“People come by just to say hello,” said Leung Chiu-yu, who works in overseas distribution for Mandarin Films. “I think this was good for connections.”

Of course, that’s not enough to keep a market going and growing.

“People have to be able to sign contracts. That will determine the success,” said organizer Jenny Koo.

Nikolaus Prachensky, Fashion TV’s vice president for Asia, said he was close to signing some deals to get the 24-hour fashion network on the air in Hong Kong as well as Japan. “It was exposure,” he said. And no doubt his booth, with its bevy of frisky models handing out T-shirts, attracted attention in a sea of stands decorated with acres of posters for new and old kung fu films.

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