NATPE in Europe revitalized in Budapest, yet some issues linger.

Position:CEE Content Biz Report

NATPE Budapest kicked off on Monday, June 27 with the pre-market Warner Bros, and Lionsgate screenings and a reception for buyers. Between the events, over 120 of the 450-plus expected buyers were already in action at the Intercontinental Hotel, the market's official venue.

By 10 a.m. the following day, the three-day market was already in full swing with packed corridors on the second floor, where the suites were located and at the crowded stands, boxes and tables on the first floor of the hotel. A total of 135 exhibiting companies catered to expected buyers, even though the final tally indicated no more than 400 buyers. In addition, a general complaint from indie distributors was the fact that many buyers would not answer their e-mails.

It looked like NATPE Europe, now NATPE Budapest, returned to its pre-Prague and post-Budapest glory of four years ago. "I love Budapest," commented Nidal M. Garcia, a buyer from Lebanon. "I stopped attending when it moved to Prague," she added.

The market's first day started promptly with the CBS Studios' screenings at 8 a.m., a 10-minute walk from the Intercontinental. The same theater was used in the afternoon for the NBCUniversal screenings.

At noon, one of the six official conferences --the HBO-sponsored luncheon where a new local production was previewed--was held at the Corso Restaurant on the hotel's ground floor and at 3 p.m. Mediaset held a press conference for Rocco Siffredi, star of the company's series presented at the trade show.

The market's second day began with a seminar that was not on the official schedule and was organized by the CCTV-China Pavilion at NATPE Budapest to introduce co-productions with Hungary, and held at the nearby Sofitel. The hotel was the original venue for NATPE in Europe when it was called Discop.

The day concluded with the opening party staged at the Intercontinental hotel, where the market organizers' concern for the increased number of people mingling and meeting without registering was well in evidence.

This often-practiced occurrence was brought to the attention of marketgoers as part of NATPE's new campaign to reduce the number of participants who attend without paying the registration fee, and take advantage of the open hotel lobby, bars and restaurants. This practice, much more pervasive at NATPE Miami, prompted market organizers to post a warning "Regarding unfair competition and parasitic business practices." (see photo below)

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