Project market wraps on Monday night

The Pusan Festival’s project market, the 11th Pusan Promotion Plan, wrapped on Monday night with a generous flurry of cash and in-kind prizes.

But the atmosphere were subdued, which some bizzers put down to the problems of the Asian Film Market.

Top prize went to Malaysian helmer Ahmad Yasmin’s “Forget-Me-Not,” which collected the Pusan Award and $20,000. about a teenage Malay girl’s journey to Japan to look for her family’s roots.

Korean helmer Lee Chang-dong’s “Poetry” collected the Kodak Award, $17,000 worth of negative stock. Pic, already set up with Fine Cut as sales agent, chronicles an old woman’s attempt to write poems.

“Before the Asian Film Market (was formed three years ago), we had more European producers coming to PPP to talk to us, but their numbers have dropped over the years,” Shohreh Golparian of Japanese indie shingle Small Talk, said. “I’m surprised, though, that Korean buyers and investors have not taken their place.”

This year’s PPP was a scaled-down affair, bringing the focus back to Asian projects by new and lesser known directors.

“There are some established filmmakers at this year’s PPP, but there are no obvious directors who need to come to PPP for funding, unlike previous years,” said Three Dots Entertainment’s Michelle Yeh, who is producer on Taiwanese PPP project “Sacred Warriors.”

Despite the slowdown in deals, however, producers were unanimous about the importance of showcasing their projects at the PPP. The close proximity with the Asian Film Fund Forum allowed for meetings with representatives of capital funds that are targeted towards Asian content.

Similarly, for Golparian, despite competition from Hong Kong’s HAF and the Tokyo Festival’s Tokyo Project Gathering, Pusan is still the top platform within Asia to pitch art house films.

“The PPP has both history and experience, plus Pusan is a good festival, so the companies who come here are serious ones,” Golparian said.

Other prizes included the $8,000 Busan Film Commission Award, which went to Chinese helmer Zhang Yuan’s “Executioner Garden,” based on Chinese scribe Zhang Xiabo’s novel “The Inspector.”

The Overseas Korean Foundation’s $8,000 prize went to “A Brand New Life,” a Korea-France co-production project a Korean girl’s fate, set in 1975. Pic is to be helmed by Franco-Korean director Ounie Lecomte, who was adopted by a French family when she was 9.

Iranian helmer Mona Zandi’s “The Bride” was awarded $17,000 of travel expenses by the Goteborg Film Festival Fund. Pic is about a Palestinian couple’s marriage, which is interrupted by the incursion of Israeli soldiers.

The Wooridul Award went to Korean helmer Jung Bum-sik’s “Eugenia,” a mystery based on Japanese novelist Onta Riku’s work.

PPP 2008 invited 30 projects. The organizers reported that they arranged more than 500 meetings during the three-day event.

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