Pusan Mart upbeat despite lack of buyers

Market offered more meetings than deals

PUSAN — This year’s Asian Film Market at the Pusan Film Festival was more about meetings than signing major deals, but most market players said they were happy with the event.

The atmosphere at the four-day mart, which wrapped on Wednesday, was best described as a hum of discussion rather than a popping of corks. The more muted atmosphere was not surprising given the lingering effects of the global economic downturn, but some markets, especially in China, are proving amazingly resilient.

With 43 films showing this year, up from last year’s 38, the market estimates the total value of deals came to around $2 million.

“This testifies that though still at a nascent stage, the Asian Film Market is growing into a key marketplace for film business,” mart organizers said in a statement.

Among deals, CJ sold helmer Jang Jin’s Pusan fest opener “Good Morning President,” Goro Kishitani’s “Killer Bride’s Perfect Crime” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother” to Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and France.

Nikkatsu sold Satoko Yokohama’s Toronto player “Bare Essence of Life” to Korea. Japan’s Toei sold Isao Yukisada’s “A Good Husband” to Taiwan’s Bees Factory Entertainment, while Taiwan’s Joint Entertainment sold Cheung King-Wai’s documentary “KJ: Music and Life,” about music prodigy Wong Ka-Jeng, to Jin Jin Pictures of Korea.

Korea’s Indiestory sold Lee Chung-ryoul’s “Old Partner” to Taiwan.

Cindy Lin, of the independent Chinese company Infotainment, said the market was a good way to tubthump her company as a solid production outfit. “We’ve had some good meetings — our schedule was full from 9:30 until 5:30,” she said. “We’re working with mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and lots of people from the south were keen to find a market in mainland China. As young producers, we don’t have the opportunity to get big projects, but we can help these people learn how to make box office in China.”

The lion’s share of mart participants were from the Greater China region — China, Hong Kong and Taiwan — who made up one-third of the market, while Europe was also strong, with 27% of the total. Local players from South Korea made up 19%, Japan accounted for 7%, 1% from Oceania and 10% from other regions.

Organizers said that sales offices at the 4th Asian Film Market increased from 41 to 45, while participating companies increased from 72 to 75. The European Film Promotion opened umbrella offices for 24 companies, reflecting the growing focus by Europe on the Asian market.

Next year the mart will launch a new online screening system and hold a producers’ workshop with European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs.

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