A look at the biz behind the Asian Film Market

Opinions about the effectiveness of the newly structured Asian Film Market predictably divided along lines reflecting the participants’ expectations and available rights.

On both sides, few would rank Pusan as a serious rival to Cannes, or even Berlin.

“We confirmed a lot of agreements, but people are not in the habit of signing deal memos here,” said CJ Entertainment’s Kini Kim. “It’s only the first year.”

“We didn’t close any deals here, but we had lots of meetings of the kind that advanced our projects,” said Judy Zhang of Chinese production and sales shingle Meridian Pictures.

“I preferred the lobby format of the informal Pusan market. Working from hotel rooms means I only get the meetings I’ve booked and I’ve got another market like that in 10 days,” Thorsten Schumacher of the U.K.’s HanWay Films said.

Some joked that the singular absence of European buyers was a form of Italian revenge for the demise of Mifed. “The reason there are so few here is that a lot of them decided to go to Rome,” industry vet Tito Velasco of the Philippines Unique Pictures said.

One Euro buyer who did make it, Jane Giles of Tartan Films, said, “This has been a super market. We achieved everything we set out to do.”

Smaller buyers from developing territories may not make the trip to AFM in Santa Monica and instead conducted their business here.

Officially, the market put the total number of participants at 3,500, sales and exhibition booths at 131 and market screenings at 116.

Deals included:

  • Possibly the biggest deal of the market was Tokyo Broadcasting System’s sale of meller “Nada Sou Sou” to Korea’s Fall in Cinema. TBS reports a purchase price higher than that of its boffo “Sinking of Japan,” probably around $1 million.

  • Korea’s Cineclick Asia pre-sold two horror titles to France’s Wild Side: “Hansel and Gretel,” helmed by Im Phil-sung, who debuted last year with “Antarctic Diary,” and “Mommy’s Risen” by hot independent filmmaker Shin Jane. Cineclick also sold a trio of films to J-BICS for Thailand: Im Sang-soo’s “The Old Garden,” drama “Love Me Not” and Toronto selection “Family Ties.”

  • Queen Imperial, a Singapore-based outfit buying rights for Indonesia, where it has plans to promote Korean movies as the Asian alternative to Hollywood. It snapped up CJ Entertainment’s big title “The Restless” and Korean B.O. record-holder “The Host” from Cineclick. Earlier in the market it bought five from iHQ.

  • From Cineclick, Singapore and Malaysia buyer AOE acquired “Seducing Mr. Perfect” and “Mission Sex Control.”

  • CJ Entertainment sold its “Four Horror” package and “Puzzle” to Blitz Entertainment for Indonesia and Malaysia. Company also licensed “A Moment to Remember,” “The Wig” and “Voice” to Raam for Indonesia.

  • Vietnam Media concluded a multi-pic deal with Astro All Entertainment Asia, a regional satcaster that also has theatrical releasing ops in Hong Kong through its Celestial Pictures subsid. All rights deals included: “Pao’s Story” (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei); “Saigon Eclipse” (Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei); and “The White Silk Dress” (Singapore and Thailand). Astro also picked up a package of five pics for pay-TV distribution in Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Vietnam Media also dealt a pack of 10 pics to soon-to-launch Webcaster Jaman of the U.S.

  • Berlin-based MDC Intl. sold Tudor Giurgiu’s Berlinale Panorama entry “Love Sick” to Atom of Taiwan, and “Schultze Gets the Blues” to Studio Hybris of Korea.

  • Tokyo-based sales agent Gold View licensed Korea rights on “Who’s Camus, Anyway?” to Film Forum, and Singapore rights to “Vibrator” to Overseas Distribution. “Arang” was sold to Raam Entertainment for Indonesia and Splendid for Germany.

Deals or no deals, possibly the biggest mood-influencing factor was how many minutes had been wasted waiting for one of the Grand Hotel’s glass elevators to arrive, only for it to turn up full.

(Darcy Paquet and Mark Schilling contributed to this story.)

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