Tokyo Market is Increasingly Diverse, Busier

TIFFCOM (Tokyo Content Showcase) 2014
Patrick Frater / Variety

TOKYO — The rights market that accompanies the Tokyo International Film Festival is still abbreviated as TIFFCOM, but these days its full name stands for Japan Content Showcase, reflecting a scope that has been stretched far wider than simply completed feature films.

Held at a convention hotel on an artificial island in Tokyo Harbor, the three day event (Oct. 21-23) now spans film, TV content, music and talent management, intellectual property of other sorts, and lots of animation.

“The market is a nice size, not too big, not too small,” said Daniel Otto, attending from Germany on behalf of German-Swiss group Visionen. “It is definitely becoming more focussed on IP rights and animation, but that suits me well as we are buying animation.”

The diversification fits with a Japanese government policy for the creative industries to be given an export push, and to combine their efforts. It also helps differentiate TIFFCOM from the Asian Film Market held in Busan only ten days ago and the American Film Market to be held early next month in Santa Monica.

This year, for the first time, the Tokyo market is held separately from the film festival in terms of time as well as geographic location. The film festival starts in Roppongi district on Thursday (Oct. 23), just as the market winds down. That means that several buyers will leave town just as the festival is hitting its stride at the weekend.

But market organizers seem un-worried. They claimed a record 331 exhibitors and 1,158 registered executives. Corridors in the basement of Grand Pacific Le Daiba on the first day were busy, with a drop in traffic on the second day of perhaps a third.

“We are finding that we have new visitors from within Asia, not just the traditional buyers from Taiwan and Hong Kong, but also SE Asia, Cambodia and Vietnam,” said a spokesman for Japanese seller T-Joy.

Beneath the moulded ceilings and chandeliers, sales companies, location attraction agencies and institutions are not lacking in showmanship.

Promotional stunts employed by sellers range from ladies in kimonos, teens in cosplay outfits and a six-piece girl group in matching vinyl mini dresses. There are wandering samurai with fake swords and open barrels of sake.

“We skipped Busan because we were too busy and because TIFFCOM helps us with things like hotels and flights,” said Nguyen Bai Mai, of Vietnam Media Corporation and BHD.

“It is an easy market to use, and we can maybe do the same amount of business here as we typically do at the American Film Market,” said Michelle Son, Korea, M-Line

Visitors are not all active buyers and sellers. There are plenty of participants for an expanded range of seminars on everything from European subsidy systems to “how to use Japanese music.”

Others joined TIFFCOM’s revived project market and JETRO’s ‘Biz Match Event’ while Thursday will see an India-Japan Animation mixer.

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