BUSAN: Japanese Sellers Looking for Scarce Buyers

Japanese companies, including major distributors and TV networks, have come in force to the BIFF Asian Film Market, but buyers look to be thin on the ground – or rather in the booths. “My impression is that the number of buyers (for Japanse films) has shrunk in the last two years or so,” says Kenta Fudesaka, international relations manager of Japanese film promotion org UniJapan. “It seems the hallways were more crowded when the market was in the SeaCloud Hotel.”

Fudesaka was talking about not only UniJapan, but the Japan contingent in general. “They’re here mainly to sell Korean buyers,” he commented. Buyers from other countries interested in Japanese product, he noted, can sample the full selection at the TIFFCOM market in Tokyo Oct. 20-24: “They don’t really have to be here just for the Japanese films,” he said.

Among new J films on offer are the Shinji Higuchi sci-fi epic “Attack on Titan,” the alien invasion two-parter “Parasyte,” by megahit director Takashi Yamazaki (“The Eternal Zero”) and the new Takashi Miike death game thriller “As the Gods Will,” which will premiere at the upcoming Rome fest.  Nikkatsu is repping “Tokyo Tribe,” the new rap musical by another international cult fav, Sion Sono, as well as “Kabukicho Love Hotel,” the ensemble romantic-erotic drama by Ryuichi Hiroki starring Korean thesps Son Il-kwon and Lee Eun-woo that is screening the festival.

Also, Kadokawa, whose parent company recently merged with IT giant Dwango, is bringing the new Mari Asato horror “Fatal Frame” and the Rikiya Imaizumi comedy “Sister Game.” Toei, another major distrib, has two films in both the festival and market: Chiang Hsui Chiung’s female bonding drama “The Furthest End Awaits,” starring hot Japanese thesps Hiromi Nagasaku and Nozomi Sasaki, and “Five Minutes to Tomorrow,” Isao Yukisada’s suspenser whose international cast is headed by Haruma Miura, Liu ShiShi and Chang Hsiao Chuan. Rival Shochiku’s packed line-up includes the Daihaichi Yoshida caper drama “Pale Moon,” the only J film selected for the competiton at the upcoming Tokyo fest and “Kakekomi,” veteran helmer Masato Harada’s period drama about samurai-era divorce.

Meanwhile, Japanese sellers are eager to marry their line-ups with Korean buyers, but who will take the leap?

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