Fledgling Venice film market has buzz but few deals

Tue Sep 4, 2012 9:52am EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - During his first stint as director of the Venice film festival in 1999, Alberto Barbera said the Lido did not need a market in the age of the Internet.

Now he is back at the helm of the world's oldest movie showcase, he says that was a strategic blunder as Venice struggles to compete with rivals in Cannes, Berlin and Toronto.

In an attempt to turn the tide, Barbera launched a five-day slot for deal-making and industry shmoozing that he hopes will make Venice more commercially attractive for studios.

"We need to bring back the professionals, we need to bring the buyers back to Venice," Barbera told Reuters in an interview.

For that he hired Pascal Diot, a French sales veteran and manager of the Dubai Filmmart who invited some 250 international buyers and sales agents and set up facilities at the Excelsior hotel including a digital library and private screening room.

As the initiative wound up on Monday, the buzz was positive but business muted.

Big festival films were already sold well before it began, and most industry executives said they used the Lido as a launchpad for deals to be closed in Toronto, a long established market venue whose dates partly overlap with Venice.

"I think this is the most welcome change in the new-look Venice. It's a quiet, less stressful space where you can meet the buyers and feel like you now have a home at this festival," said Rikke Ennis, head of Denmark-based international sales agents TrustNordisk which has three films screening in Venice.   Continued...

Venice Film Festival Director Alberto Barbera stands on stage during an award ceremony at the 69th Venice Film Festival August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile