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Business gets off to slow start at key Cannes

A record number of cinema professionals from around the globe are due to cram into this small Riviera town.

india Updated: May 20, 2006 15:05 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Traffic up the famed red-carpeted Palais de Festival steps has been crowded with stars since the 2006 film festival kicked off here, but the real business of buying and selling has been slower to take off this year, industry participants said on Friday.

"It's a quieter start to this year's market" compared with 2005, Chanjira Chantanajulaka from Thailand's Office of Tourism Development said. 

But business is expected up to pick up as the 11-day market - the most important annual event in the film industry's diary - gathers steam, industry experts said.

A record number of cinema professionals from around the globe are due to cram into this small Riviera town for the 2006 event, which runs concurrently with the more headline-grabbing film competition.

Almost 8,700 participants from 86 countries have already signed up for the event, eight percent up from last year. And the organisers are confident this will swell during over the next few days to break through the 10,000-barrier for the first time.

Asia, which has notched up the largest rise in attendance of up 23 percent, is helping fuel this increase despite a fall in the number of Asian films selected to compete in the festival.

The region will account for 16 percent of all the participants, while the United States' presence is steady at 17 per cent, followed by France with 14 percent and Britain with 13 percent.

With a staggering 4,471 films from 69 countries up for grabs this year, there is a lot of competition for the 1,600 buyers' attention.

This year, there's an exceptional diversity of films on offer, many of them coming from some of the world's smallest and least internationally-known film industries as well as the cinema powerhouses of Italy, Spain, France, the U Britain and the US.

The Turks & Caicos Islands is pushing The Very Big Apartment, while Vietnam is making waves with The White Silk Dress by Luu Huynh.

Leading Russian film distributor InterCinema has a big slate of movies, including Transit, a new film by Alexander Rogozhkin of The Cuckoo fame.

Russian films are scoring well around the world, including in Japan, Singapore, the United States and Italy, and "there are a lot of buyers interested in the films we are offering at Cannes," InterCinema's Raisa Fomina said.

Shirin Naderi, head of international business at Iran's Documentary and Experimental Film Center, said she is hopeful that interest will pick up during the market in the 20 plus films Iran is screening for international buyers.

Iranian films are proving popular with audiences in Europe, the United States and in Asia, she noted.

Fans around the world of the increasingly popular opulent Indian Bollywood singing and dancing extravaganzas and the new wave of "Bollywood meets Hollywood" crossover films will also be spoilt for choice.

"With Bollywood being so popular," there is the largest ever turnout from the Indian film industry here at Cannes this year, Alice Coelho of leading Indian distributor Eros, said.

First Published: May 20, 2006 15:05 IST

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