While this year’s American Film Market will be more international than ever, featuring more than 50 new exhibiting companies, 2012 marks the first time that several Asian government-backed promotional orgs are coming to the mart.

As the region continues to flex its box office muscle, not only are Western companies looking to get into those markets, but Asian shingles also see the benefit of partnering with their Western counterparts.

Sissi Zhang, director of the American Dept. of China Film Promotion Intl., says AFM is a very mature and commercial market in which to do business in the U.S.

“It’s not like film festivals — it is very practical for businessmen. Our main aim is to promote Chinese films to the overseas community and also exchange film culture between nations — AFM is a good platform for us,” Zhang says.

Their stand at the market provides a useful platform for Chinese shingles to promote their pics, screen them to potential buyers and recommend them to festivals for selection.

“Chinese buyers can also select and purchase foreign films with the help of CFPI, introducing co-production policies of China for those who would like to do certain projects,” Zhang says.

Thailand is keen to become a film hub, and AFM fits well with this ambition. So far in 2012 there have been 433 foreign productions filmed in Thailand generating $60 million in revenue.

Issaree Suwunnavid, CEO of Heffernan, which is helping promote the National Federation of Thai Films Assn., Thailand’s Hua Hin Intl. Film Festival and the Thailand Where Films Come Alive campaign designed to lure foreign shoots, believes AFM remains one of the prime meeting points for the motion picture industry. The Thailand Film Commission will also be repped at AFM.

“Without doubt this is the best networking event in entertainment,” Suwunnavid says. “We have a broad spectrum outlook for AFM, we are, of course, looking for production, post-production deals, we want people to come to Thailand to make their movies. But this year we are also looking for opportunities to become involved in (financing) in a number of ways.”

She says the Thai film biz is looking to develop further ties with Hollywood by establishing a local presence.

The director general of Malaysia’s film development orgFinas, Mohd Naguib Razak, sees AFM as a crucial market for international producers who want to establish a beachhead in the West, especially Hollywood.

Malaysia right now has almost 200 new projects, both finished and in post and various stages of production, available for sale or co-production, ranging from pics to docs to TV skeins to toons.

“Our mission and focus at AFM this year is to aggressively sell programs and encourage more international co-production projects, and promote Malaysia as an attractive filming location,” he says.

Other Asian countries headed to AFM include India’s NFDC, NZ Film (New Zealand), Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Japan’s Jetro and Korea Creative Content Agency.

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