The Venice Production Bridge, as the Venice Film Festival’s market is known, is kicking off with more producers, distributors and sales agents attending this year — especially from Asia, even though its core remains firmly European.
There are roughly 2,400 industry attendees accredited, which is around 200 more than last year. Market chief Pascal Diot noted that roughly half are from Europe.
As in past editions, the main focus of the Venice market is production.
Due to scarce infrastructure and proximity to Toronto, Venice “can never be a big sell-and-buy market, like Cannes and Berlin,” said Diot. But Diot has built the market by providing something for producers at every stage of the development cycle. There is the book adaptation rights market “for the IP,” he says, and then the core gap financing platform for more than 50 selected projects, including VR productions. And, finally, Venice provides post-production support for select works from the Middle East and North Africa region through its Final Cut in Venice section.
Pics with roughly 70% of their budget in place seeking partners a the Venice Production Bridge include new works from name directors such as Agnieszka Holland, Russia’s Alexey German Jr. and Canada’s Bruce La Bruce.
Just like last year, streaming platforms are on the Lido in full force, with Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and Hulu all represented. But the difference this year is that they are “really looking for IP,” said Diot.
Which is why Diot this year has raised the number of international publishers pitching book rights from 20 to 25. Imprints on the Lido include New York-based Abrams/The Overlook Press, Sweden’s Salomonsson Agency, the U.K.’s Andrew Nurnberg Associates, Italy’s Rizzoli and Japan’s Kadokawa.
Kadokawa Pictures is part of a large delegation from Japan at the market that also includes Toei Animation, Gaga and Aeon Entertainment, some of which are screening fresh product at the market.
As has become customary, there is also a large contingent from China. Italian motion picture association ANICA is hosting a Focus on China event with several panels on Sunday, to be attended by Charles H. Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, alongside Liu Chun, president of the China Film Co-Production Corp. and ANICA’s Roberto Stabile.
The number of U.S. companies at Venice is increasing due the the VR component of the market, which Venice, being the only major fest with a VR competition, has pioneered.
“In the VR world Venice has now positioned itself as the No. 1 market,” said Diot. Prominent VR outfits on the Lido include Oculus, Samsung VR and Mr. Kite.
Saudi Arabia is present with a robust contingent representing the nascent Red Sea Festival.
But for many the biggest novelty this year is that, instead of being relegated to the Hotel Excelsior, producers, buyers and sellers will be able to hobnob in a new venue: the partly refurbished Hotel Des Bains, where Luchino Visconti shot “Death in Venice.” “I think it will become the new hub for everyone at night,” Diot predicted.