Three years after its launch, the Venice Film Market is steadily gaining ground as a small but solid bazaar with realistic goals and a focus on serving industryites who won’t necessarily be going to Toronto.

That’s the reason for this year’s launch on the Lido of the first European Gap Financing Co-Production Market where Euro producers will be shopping 15 projects with 70% of financing already in place.

“I didn’t want to create another co-production market dedicated to development because there are so many already, and there is demand out there for films that industry people can be sure will get made,” says VFM topper Pascal Diot.

It’s the same rationale behind Biennale College, which takes a project from development to completion, and also the Final Cut in Venice workshop that provides partnership opportunities to African films in post and, starting this year, also supports almost-ready-to-go works from Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, territories with fertile cinema traditions where making movies can be especially tough.

The main purpose of the Venice bazaar, which is located on the third floor of the Lido’s Hotel Excelsior and adjacent terraces, is “really networking,” says Diot.

The VFM will have a dedicated day for meetings between sales companies and arthouse exhibitors belonging to the Intl. Confederation of Art Cinemas, given that specialty cinema circuits are increasingly cutting out the middleman and buying art movies directly rather than getting them from local distribs.

VFM attendance is expected to be up slightly on last year when some 250 sales agents and distributors trekked to the Lido. This year there will certainly be more producers and financers coming specifically for the Euro gap financing mart, where hot projects include Dutch director David Verbeek’s China-set vampire movie “Dead & Beautiful,” about super-rich Beijing youngsters turning into vampires after another extreme night out on the town; French first-timer Eva Husson’s “Bang Gang,” in which a private orgy in a small port city becomes a collective phenomenon; and Albania-set “Sworn Virgin,” helmed by Italo first-timer Laura Bispuri, starring Alba Rohrwacher and Lars Eidinger.