International News Briefs: French Gamers Going

International News: Soth Korea's Art of the Genre Pitch, Wide-Ranging Fringe Talks Politics in Scotland

French Gamers Going Mobile

France: Alternative game platforms are continuing to grow in France, while the physical vidgame market shows a steady decline, and French games are taking the biggest hit.

According to IHS Electronics & Media, consumer spending on game content in France reached $2.48 billion in 2012. Spending on digital, online and mobile games repped 43% of the market, compared with 32% in 2011.

Piers Harding-Rolls, director and head of games at IHS E&M, said the drop in traditional physical games is partly due to weak performance from platforms like Nintendo’s Wii U, Sony’s PS Vita and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo’s 3DS, but also a factor of the increased availability of digital content.

“The escalation in spending on digital, online and mobile games content is partly fueled by connecting with new gamers through new devices — smartphones, tablets, etc. — as a replacement for physical media sales,” he said. “This has found particular traction in the PC game sector, but increasingly on consoles as well.”

According to a report from CNC, Gaul’s national film and TV board, the physical market dropped 15.5% to 28.9 million units sold, falling 13.6% to €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion).

French vidgames were o 22.3%, compared with 15% for foreign games. Foreign titles repped 93.2% of units sold. Sales were topped by Activision-Blizzard’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” (pictured), Electronic Arts’ “Fifa 13” and Ubisoft’s “Just Dance 4.”

Online games generated $1 billion in 2012 and sales are expected to grow 9% a year through 2016, per the CNC.

— Elsa Keslassy

The Art of the Genre Pitch

South Korea: Every self-respecting film festival seems to include an industry-support section, often a forum where filmmakers in need of financing or distribution can pitch projects to investors, co-producers or sales agents.

CineMart in Rotterdam, the Independent Feature Project in New York and many others use a one-on-one, speed-dating format. They center on arthouse independent fare, which need a lot of love, due to the financial uncertainties involved. So then why does South Korean fantasy festival PiFan operate a project market devoted entirely to genre films, which are considered mainstream in Hollywood?

“In Asia, genre films are considered as B movies and get no support,” says Thomas Nam, who has headed PiFan’s Network of Asian Fantastic Films (NAFF) since its inception in 2008.

The event has developed loyal participants who cross continents to hear pitches from Asia, a hotbed of low-budget creativity that ranges from J-Horror to Southeast Asian martial arts. (An early draft of “The Raid” had a public reading at NAFF.)

Adherents from the U.S. include Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee, Mosaic Entertainment’s Gloria Fan and cross-media specialist John Heinsen. NAFF also typically receives reps from Distant Horizon and Hyde Park Entertainment, as well as Carrie Wong of Fox Intl. Prods. From the U.K., annual visitors include sales agent Thierry Wase-Bailey. Asian neighbors include Fuji Television’s Mina Mita, Fortissimo Film’s Michael J. Werner and “Cloud Atlas” co-financier Caroline Kwauk of Ascension Pictures.

The festival and NAFF take place in Bucheon, a suburb of Seoul that rarely hosts overnight tourists: Nearly all of its hotels have rooms rented by the hour. NAFF takes place in an upmarket “love hotel” in a gaudy (but definitely not seedy) “entertainment” quarter.

It’s possible that the setting helps NAFF. The dreary daytime exteriors keep the film folk indoors at their table-hopping 30-minute meetings. The neon-lit evenings get the creative juices fl owing again with a surreal merry-go-round of vampire parties, karaoke nights and street food. The soju-soaked barbecues or makkoli-drenched Korean pancake marathons run into the small hours. “All our guests are VPs, but they typically don’t look like it,” Nam says.

The curious chemistry of NAFF works. Submissions were up 40% this year for the 21 slots available, and Nam claims 24 projects workshopped at NAFF now exist as feature films. They include “The Terror Live,” which was optioned and distributed by local Korean major Lotte Entertainment.

At Fortissimo, “We want to handle two or three genre films per year, so rather than going to another kind of project incubator where there may be just one genre film among 30 projects, here maybe 20 of the 28 are pure genre films,” Werner says.

Fan says the project mart is a onestop shop for Mosaic, meeting filmmakers from Korea, Japan, Greater China and South East Asia. “What I especially like about NAFF is how each year they focus on a particular area, this year being the Philippines. I knew there were great filmmakers there, but I’ve never really thought about the horror market in the Philippines until now.”

Nam has expanded NAFF to include seminars and graduate-level fi lm education via the Fantastic Film School. Underlining the success of the genre mart, the event has been getting imitators. Montreal’s Fantasia last year launched “Frontieres,” a genre project market that promotes co-production with Canada. And in October, the Fantastic Film Festival in Austin, Texas, will offer a project mart for American genre independents.

— Patrick Frater

Wide-Ranging Fringe Talks Politics

Scotland: Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe has a tiny-sounding name that’s gargantuan in scope. The fest, which concludes Aug. 26, runs 25 days, and this year’s edition boasts 2,900 shows performed by 24,000 artists in 270 venues, a 6.5% increase over last year.

Official events include comedy, theater and opera, while unofficial events embrace books, videogames and jazz street performances. The comedians, thesps, musicians and dancers hail from more than 40 countries.

The Traverse theater has nabbed honors for plays by Scottish scribes David Greig, whose “The Events” follows a mass shooting of a community choir; David Harrower’s one-woman “Ciara,” about the daughter of a Glasgow crime lord; “Grounded,” written by George Brant, looking at drone warfare, and Owen McCafferty’s “Quietly,” about the effects of a Belfast bombing.

All the projects were honored by the Scotsman’s Fringe First Awards (issued by Edinburgh paper the Scotsman), which aims to get new writing talent into the Fringe.

The festival does not have juries. Awards are issued by independent outside organizations.

The nearly monthlong event contributes more than £142 million ($219 million) to the Scottish economy each year.

— Diana Lodderhose

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