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European Film Market Opens And Shatters Records

Friday, February 9----As the hooplah from last evening's Gala Opening Night has died down, it is now time for the Berlinale to get serious about the business of international film. After several days of preparation, the European Film Market opens this morning, shattering previous records of attendance, exhibition booths and films to be screened. With the changes in the industry calendar of the past few years, the EFM has become an indispensable place for sellers to hawk their wares and for buyers to dig into their pocketbooks.

While the European Film Market has always created networking possibilities for film sellers and film buyers for the films presented in the Berlinale film sections, its importance has only heightened in the past two years and expanded to companies that are not associated with films screening in the Festival itself. “The movement of the American Film Market from March to November, and the demise of The London Screenings and MIFED have made Berlin an important stop for film buyers and sellers”, European Film Market co-topper Beki Probst explained. “Sellers feel the need to bring out their newest films, without having to wait until May for Cannes. And especially if their films are quality art films or award-calibre independent productions, Berlin offers the right kind of atmosphere and the right kind of buyers.”

Probst and co-Director Karen Arikian have overseen a dramatic expansion of the number of exhibitors and films to be screened during the week-long Market. The EFM will host 115 exhibition stands, with 259 participating companies representing 49 countries (this is an expansion from 2006, which had 109 stands, 254 companies from 43 countries). There are 70 new companies participating this year, among them 33 publishers at the umbrella stand of the Frankfurt Book Fair. New countries participating this year include Serbia, Croatia, Georgia, Lebanon and Thailand. Sales companies coming to Berlin for the first time include First Look International, Sidney Kimmel and Icon.

The move last year to the expansive Martin Gropius Bau allowed for an expansion of exhibition space, but even that has not been enough for the explosion of interest from international sellers. Although 77 companies will exhibit at the Martin Gropius Bau, a record 38 companies are being accommodated in the EFM Business Offices. Add to that companies who do not formally exhibit but do business from their hotel rooms, and the number of sellers has shot up dramatically.

The number of buyers has also increased, with 878 registered so far (and more expected to register onsite) from 50 countries (with buyers from Chile and The Phillipines making it to Berlin for the first time). The Market will showcase 702 films, of which 70% are market premieres….a dramatic increase from the 642 films screened last year. A staggering total of 63 countries’ film product will be represented at the Market screenings at 31 cinemas, including three new video studios at the Marriott Hotel.

The EFM is hosting a number of new initiatives this year: EFM official partner Arts Alliance Media (a UK digital media company) will co-host a series of debates on digital cinema with film trade Screen International; a Works In Progress section will showcase ten uncompleted works from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba, giving buyers an early shot at tracking the latest developments in Latin American cinema; and the Co-Production Market features over twenty film projects that have secured early financing and are looking for co-production partners.

“The European Film Market is expanding beyond the traditional art film”, Probst continued. “We now are open to more mainstream and commercial films that still have a strong art element to them. Because of our Siamese twin relationship to the Film Festival, we will always give priority to the films screening in all sections of the Festival”. We will dutifully report major deals, acquisition pick-ups and other Market news right here. Stay tuned.

Sandy Mandelberger
Berlin Online Dailies Editor

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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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