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Records smashed as market unveils its new home

Martin Gropius exhibition hall offers more exhibition space

A new day dawns for the European Film Market, which runs alongside the Berlin Film Festival, thanks to its place as the first industry bazaar of the year.

Mart will smash its attendance records with more than 240 exhibitors from around the world taking stands — 45% more than last year.

“Due to the new positioning on the calendar, we have been able to develop and further strengthen our role in the global film industry,” says EFM director Beki Probst. “Until February there is nothing happening in the market schedule, and they say nature abhors a vacuum and we are very much in demand now because of this.”

The EFM this year also is moving to a new location at the Martin Gropius exhibition hall, one of Germany’s most striking buildings.

“The response to the new building is great,” says Probst. “We are sold out — we can’t accommodate all the companies. The market will grow again with this move.”

Leading U.S. companies taking stands for the first time include Focus, Lakeshore and the Weinstein Co.

“It’s wonderful for us to have the big players as well as the middle- and small-sized companies all together,” says Probst. “That’s the mix we have always wanted to achieve, but we will always remain very faithful to the small players who have always been here and remained faithful to us.”

With the main site fully booked, the market has placed a further 37 sales companies at Potsdamer Platz 11, a few minutes’ walk from the Martin Gropius building.

While the EFM is undergoing a major growth spurt with the move, the new location, new participants and new sections, Probst is keeping it in check.

“We want to grow, but we don’t want to grow wildly. We need structure. We give priority to new films and festival screeners, and we have the Gropius building well organized.

“We have a very strong relationship to the festival. We are not just a film market, we are a market with a festival.”

Depending on the year, the percentage of festival screeners at the EFM can be as high as 60%.

Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick stresses that despite strong growth, the market will remain connected to the festival, calling the symbiotic connection “a unique feature of the EFM.”

“The market is a major advantage for the festival,” says Probst. “Every festival, no matter how big or small, is interested in having the industry there. The press is OK, but you need the industry because those films that are in a festival should afterwards see the light, or the darkness, of a movie theater. So what the market does is attract the industry. It’s a very interesting situation for both sides.”

The EFM also has set up various market programs, including a growing partnership with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Cinema section, which highlights films that have been released theatrically in Germany.

A new market initiative is the Works in Progress series, which offers a forum for films still in production and opportunities to meet potential partners. The event will run alongside the Co-production Market, another EFM event, which is taking place separately at the Berlin House of Representatives across the road.

The EFM’s new location is a little farther from the festival than its previous venue at the Daimler-Chrysler Atrium on Potsdamer Platz, but the Gropius building is still only a few minutes’ walk away, and a shuttle service will run between the sites.

The Gropius building offers twice the previous exhibition space, and organizers say it allows the EFM to address the increasing demands of the industry. For example, the mart will have a hundred more screening slots this year.

The 19th-century Renaissance-style building will have a 200-seat cinema equipped with HD, lounges and plenty of room for private screenings on two floors.

The EFM’s on-demand screenings are part of a sponsorship deal with London-based film services company Arts Alliance Media. In 2005, participating companies Bavaria Film Intl., Celluloid Dreams, Fortissimo Film Sales, Shochiku and the Works employed the new service to digitize their films and present them to buyers at any time during the market.

Other regular market screenings will be held at the Cinemaxx and CineStar multiplexes, the Arsenal, the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in the Sony Center and a 60-seat video cinema in the House of Representatives.

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