Mart topper touts sales of big-budget pics

Moving into its fifth day, the European Film Market is bustling with business for big-budget pics and mart topper Beki Probst is happily satisfied with this year’s turnout.

“We have an upward trend with more companies, more films and more buyers here at the Martin Gropius Bau and at the Marriot — both places have been very busy,” said Probst. “People have been taking a lot of meetings, and for me a lot of meetings means there’s business going on.”

Probst, who also heads the Probst-Kinobetriebe exhibition group in Switzerland, pointed to the huge interest in Sebastian Lelio’s competition title “Gloria” among Swiss buyers as an example: “A Swiss distributor told me as soon as the screening of ‘Gloria’ was finished there were four Swiss distributors running to Funny Balloons to close a deal for the film. In the end, Film Copy got it.”

While European arthouse fare largely remains at the heart of the EFM, Probst admits that the event is expanding and changing.

“The market is growing, and growing means that also other companies are coming, companies that weren’t here in the beginning, like Lionsgate and Sierra/Affinity. Those companies were not with us a few years back,” she noted adding that they are bringing bigger-budget, more commercial films to the market. “We were very arthouse and now we can say (the EFM) offers more choices.”

Despite the growth, Probst is not worried about the EFM losing its identity, stressing that most of the films screening in the Berlin fest’s various sections are offered at the market and provide its real weight.

While everything is running smoothly, Probst said people are already asking about next year.

“I hate to think about next year, butthis means that there is interest here. We’re alive and kicking.”

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