Mart offers opportunity for European product

Industryites across Europe — not just Italians — weren’t so pleased when the mighty American Film Market blitzkrieged Mifed’s fall calendar slot and bumped off the old Milan mart.

The RomeFilmFest’s smaller, shorter and much more free-form Business Street market (Oct. 13-16) on the Italo capital’s swanky Via Veneto — where “La Dolce Vita” paparazzi once stalked — cannot replace Mifed, nor is it intended to.

Yet there is “a widespread perception that we can represent a new opportunity for European product,” says Rome fest co-topper Giorgio Gosetti.

“There is a whole network of European sellers and buyers whose needs are not really met by AFM. These are the types of companies we are catering to, with absolutely no competitive intentions,” he explains.

Via Veneto, with its posh hotels and swanky sidewalk cafes, certainly seems to make for a viable, if pricey, place to do biz. Organizers tout the breathtaking view of the Eternal City from the Bernini Hotel rooftop terrace, reserved for buyers and sellers. The mart’s other hub, the Hotel Excelsior, is equipped with nine digital screening rooms, not to mention a first-class bar. Three movie theaters in the immediate vicinity — the Barberini, Fiamma and Warner Village Moderno — have eight full-sized screens reserved for market screenings, with some 60 pics are expected to unspool.

Despite copious talk in Cannes and Venice that Rome would lure buyers and sellers merely by comping their costs, the roughly 250 industryites expected to attend (roughly two-thirds of them sellers) are paying for their own accommodations; however, they are being flown in for free.

“The idea is that we have to make an effort, but they have to make one, too,” says Diamara Parodi, the mart’s co-manager.

Among Euro outfits that have signed up to show their product are sizable players such as Celluloid Dreams, Bavaria Films, the Works and Pyramid Intl., all of which also will go to AFM. Among those making the trek to Rome from the U.S. are Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment.

“We are excited about Rome,” says Pyramid’s Valentina Merli. “For us Europeans, there certainly is room for another fall market, though at this stage it is impossible to know what to expect.”

The Italian industry is, of course, cheering. One-quarter of the product unspooling in the official selection will be local while more than half is European.

“There is nothing we can do now about the Mifed mess,” says sales agent Adriana Chiesa, also a former topper of Italo film promo body FilmItalia. “But at least now we will have a market in Rome, a place where everybody wants to go, which makes for great dealmaking.”

Also, while Rome is casting itself in a Eurocentric guise, expect more Asians on the Via Veneto starting next year. The Eternal City event has worked out a friendly agreement under which South Korea’s Pusan Intl. Film Festival and market, which currently overlaps with Rome, will shift to earlier dates.

Unlike AFM and Mifed, that’s how these smaller players are peacefully resolving their calendar conflicts.

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