×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Europeans Keep Their Eyes on Busan Prize

EFP’s determined push into the Korean peninsula is finally paying off for sales agents

Most attendees may view the Busan Intl. Film Festival as a showcase for Asian films and a place to link up with Asian buyers and sellers. And that it is.

But European Film Promotion has made a strong push at BIFF in recent years, and according to sales agents, it’s paying dividends.

“We’ve grown our presence year on year,” says Susanne Davis, project director, film sales support at European Film Promotion. There will be 40 companies on EFP’s “umbrella stand,” which is co-produced with UniFrance this year.

SEE ALSO: European Film Promotion Sets Global Plan for Continental Indies

“With Hong Kong earlier in the year and Busan in autumn, it’s the best of both worlds,” Davis says. She credits BIFF deputy director/market director Jay Jeon and general manager Daniel Kim for the improvement.

Helga Binder, deputy head of film funding at the Film und Medienstiftung NRW, says Busan is an interesting market for European films, and that there is growing interest from Asia in co-productions.

“We’re gaining profile, making good contacts, pushing North-Rhine Westphalia’s creative and successful production scene, and learning more about co-financing models,” Binder says. At Busan, her company is repping Fatih Akin’s “The Cut” and Max Leo’s “My Brother’s Keeper.”

Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO & partner of Films Boutique, says, “We don’t usually sell a lot on the spot but we do deals every year as a result of us being in Busan.”

International sales executive Katarzyna Siniarska of New Europe Film Sales, which this year is repping Latvia’s Oscar entry, “Rocks in My Pockets,” says her company’s presence at Busan especially helps find theatrical, home entertainment or VOD buyers looking for what she calls “uplifting or genre content.”

Busan’s project market draws praise from Yuanyuan Sui, operating officer, sales & acquisitions for Picture Tree Intl., who calls it “a very good contribution and blend between Asia and the rest of the world.”

Although describing South Korea as “difficult for overseas arthouse films,” Simon says, “it is still a very competitive market and many distributors are able and willing to compete when you have films they like.”

To make deals even more challenging, Mercy Liao, sales manager at West End Films, says, “local films are very strong and there is virtually no video market for foreign non-studio films. Foreign indies have to have something special to draw audiences into theaters because you can’t rely on ancillary sales to make profits. They really need to work in theatrical.”

Sui says she is “very curious how our German blockbuster ‘Fack Ju Goethe’ will perform in Korea.” The picture recently got its first international release in the Czech Republic, where it performed well enough to be No. 2 at the box office after three weeks. “I am not sure if it will do the same in Korea,” she says, “but I know Koreans also embrace universal screwball comedies.”

But sales reps understand that some films simply won’t work in South Korea.

Siniarska says that while local arthouse distributors have very sophisticated tastes, “less uplifting, smaller, arthouse titles that could work in Japan or Taiwan are less likely to find theatrical distribution here.”

But Films Boutique’s Simon sees documentaries trending upward. “It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays in coming years,” he says.

More Film

  • Fox Searchlight logo

    Film News Roundup: Fox Searchlight Launches Searchlight Shorts

    In today’s film news roundup, Fox Searchlight starts a shorts channel, Uma Thurman signs with ICM and Miramax signs animation exec Michael Lachance. SEARCHLIGHT SHORTS Fox Searchlight Pictures’ chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have announced the launch of “Searchlight Shorts” as a collection of short films. The shorts are available on Fox Searchlight’s YouTube [...]

  • ImMature - cr: MX Player

    Indian Streamers Ramp up Original Productions

    Ever since global streaming giants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix entered the Indian OTT space in 2016, the conversation around original series has mostly revolved around them, thanks in part to market leader 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar’s circumspect attitude at the time about producing content. Netflix had great success with “Sacred Games,” while Amazon rode [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • Village Rockstars

    Female Filmmakers Are a Growing Voice in India

    The Indian film industry has historically been a male-dominated one, but the winds of change are blowing across the country, albeit slowly. Better-served than the rest of the country is the Mumbai-based Hindi-language industry, where there are several active female filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”), Reema Kagti (“Gold”), Leena Yadav (“Rajma Chawal”), Gauri Shinde [...]

  • Florence Pugh

    Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Movie Adds Florence Pugh

    “Black Widow’s” web may soon be growing. Sources tell Variety that Florence Pugh is in talks to join Scarlett Johansson’s standalone superhero film. Pugh has been on the hot list for this second lead role since last fall, but Marvel wanted to open up the field to other actresses at the beginning of the year. [...]

  • Mira Lesmana Sets up Indonesia Remake

    Mira Lesmana Sets Up Indonesian Remake of CJ's 'Sunny'

    Indonesia’s Miles Film and Korea’s CJ Entertainment are to co-produce an Indonesian remake of Korean hit “Sunny.” The film is a female-driven dramedy about a group of adult friends who reunite 20 years after high school. Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, “Sunny” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Korea when it was released in 2011. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content