Lido's Barbera vows to expand VFM next year

VENICE

The first Venice Film Market wrapped on a high note Monday with clear signs of intensive, mostly Eurocentric, dealmaking being done, industryites praising facilities and services, and the prospect that next year they could be making more announcements on the Lido rather than saving them for Toronto.

“I found it very useful,” said Hengameh Panahi, topper of Paris-based Celluloid Dreams.

Fest director Alberto Barbera, at a lunch for international journos Monday, called the rookie mart a success and vowed to improve and expand VFM next year.”Buyers had stopped coming to Venice,” Barbera noted. “They were going directly to Toronto, which was a more friendly environment for them. We have put an end to that.”

Panahi concluded several deals, including taking international rights to a 16-pic package from Japanese helmer Koji Wakamatsu, whose “The Millennial Rapture” screened Monday in Venice Horizons.

“I guess it depends what type of film you have, but for European movies this is the place to be,” enthused Anais Clanet, general manager of Wide House, the documentary arm of French sales outfit Wide Management, who closed a slew of deals on helmer Francesco Patierno’s docu “Bergman and Magnani: The War of Volcanoes,” which will segue from Venice to Toronto.

At VFM Wide House sold TV rights to “Bergman” to Sky for U.K. and theatrical rights to Film Europe for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Cinema Prestige for Russia and Imovision for Brazil. Clanet also sold “Approved for Adoption,” an animated docu by Jung Henin and Laurent Boileau to Japan’s Tollywood in Venice and now expects to close a U.S. deal on that pic in Toronto.

VFM is not envisioned as comparable to Cannes, Berlin or Toronto in terms of market activity.

“I’m getting really good feedback, with everyone saying that at least now they have a place to meet and work,” said VFM topper Pascal Diot. “Now I think the word of mouth will be positive and we will be generating more sales announcements next year.”

Of course, most of the roughly 250 international buyers and 50 sales agents attending the Venice mart were saving their biggest news for Toronto.

Diot intends to add more proper screening rooms even though the mart’s digital video library booths were praised by all because they allow buyers to see lots of movies in a short time period.

Among the VFM’s most notable deals: Russian film promotion entity Roskino inked a preliminary pact with Italo sales company Intramovies, which has become its sales consultant-agent on 14 fresh Russian titles. Deal strengthened Italy’s ties with one of the world’s fastest-growing markets.

Roskino, which took a stand and sponsored VFM’s opening dinner, was the company with most visibility at the Venice mart.

(Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.)

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