Venice Market Kicks Off With Increased Attendance, Strong Interest in Film and VR Projects on Display

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The Venice Film Festival’s market is kicking off with an attendance level close to its 2019 pre-pandemic days and strong interest in feature films and VR works being pitched at its gap-financing platform

“We already have a total of more than 2,400 industry professionals registered to attend, which is close to pre-pandemic levels since in 2019 the number was 2,700 [at the end of the market],” says Pascal Diot, head of the Venice Production Bridge, as the informal mart is known.

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Of these, 1,700 are accredited with the VPB’s Golden Trade pass, while the remaining 1,000 are registered as part of film delegations.

Diot notes that despite the healthy attendance figure, there is clearly a reduced Asian presence this year “Very few Chinese, almost no Japanese, very few Koreans,” he says. A small delegation is coming from Taiwan which, along with France, is a country in focus this year. There is also a much smaller industry presence from Latin America, also reflected in this year’s film selection at the fest.

On the other hand, there is a larger presence from the Arab word, in particular from Saudi Arabia, which has ambitions to become a film industry player.

Diot points out that, differently from the pre-pandemic days, there are a lot of distributors in Venice this year.

“Distributors prefer to stay longer in Venice and skip Toronto, rather than now doing both,” he says, since “they know that in Venice they will see most of the films that will be shown in Toronto.”

All the big European distributors, such as France’s UGC, MK2 and Gaumont, and the U.K.’s Curzon, are at the VPB, “but also arthouse and mid-range distributors are coming back,” Diot points out.

In terms of U.S. presence, top U.S. streamers Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and Discovery/HBO are at the market, and also indies including A-24, Lionsgate, Anonymous Content and Participant Media. There are also more than 20 non-European streaming platforms from Europe and and Arab countries in attendance.

A total of 63 projects, almost half of which are VR, are being pitched at the Venice Gap-Financing Market, which kicks off tomorrow.

The standout among feature films is “Cold” (Kuldi) by Icelandic genre specialist Erlingur Thoroddsen, whose whose latest film is “Piper,” a retelling of the Pied Piper legend starring Charlotte Hope, Julian Sands and Alexis Rodney. “Cold,” which is about a man’s investigation into decades-old deaths at a juvenile treatment centre with sinister secrets connected to his wife’s mysterious suicide and to his teenage daughter’s strange behavior, has generated the most requests for meetings so far.

The hottest project in the VR section is “Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes” from the U.K.’s Atlantic Productions. Hawking himself imagined the location-based experience to take the viewer on a journey through the universe with him as a guide.

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