Sellers heavily outnumbered buyers at event

BANGKOK — The Bangkok Film Market fizzled to a damp end Wednesday as thunder clouds outside the Siam Paraqon complex unleashed a torrent of rain on the Thai capital and movie execs scuttled off to airports and shopping trips. The well-documented financial and pre-show organizational problems of the Bangkok Intl. Film Festival appeared to have spilled over to the three-day market, now in its fourth year. International presence was thin and attendance was scarcely essential for any genre of participant.

Sellers heavily outnumbered buyers and there was an almost total lack of major transactions. Vast majority of exhibitors were Thai companies, with facilities and tech firms exceeding movie sales specialists.

The bigger Thai studios did not use BFM to unveil new titles, preferring to hold off until South Korea’s Pusan event or the American Film Market, both in the fall. Many other firms selling rights appeared to be little more than single movie production shingles.

“It could have been better in many ways,” Phailin Amnuaiporn of Thai studio GMM Tai Hub said. “Slow,” another leading Thai player Five Star Prods.’ Amy Iamphungphorn said. “There were so few buyers.”

“We’ve been busy with our existing clients and sold some films,” Right Beyond’s deputy MD Vareerat Prichavongwaikul said. “But we did not meet any new clients.”

“It was not as organized as before,” MonoFilm exec Rachel Prapeimporn Jamawatr said.

Like the fest, which continues through the weekend, the market had to switch management in the past months as government coin shrank and local bodies took over.

Mart was handled by the Federation of National Film Assn. of Thailand with finance from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Reduced budget meant fewer invitations to foreign buyers and sellers.

Strong presence of buyers representing Indian distribbers was nevertheless a pleasant surprise for some.

Otherwise most distribs were from  South East Asia, with a smattering from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

The almost total lack of European buyers was noted in many quarters and Bey Logan, representing the Weinstein Co., was sole scout for a big name North American label.

“It would have been difficult for Thailand to have made the market better than it was, because of the politics,” Vietnam Media Corp.’s manager of sales and acquisitions Nguyen Thi Bao Mai said.

She did not complete any deals but followed up on transactions agreed at previous fests. Others were markedly less charitable.

“Every year we are told it will be better next year. But it is not,” said one local Thai exec who asked not to be named.

Several suggested that market’s poor perf will add to the debate about Thailand’s showcase events and the channels through which government funding is directed to the local movie industry.

“We might have been better simply giving the Baht 80 million ($2.75 million that the festival and market supposedly cost) directly to the Thai film industry,” said another exec.

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