( dpa )- While the glitz, glamour and grand prizes might create the buzz surrounding the world's leading film festivals, it is the business deals behind the scenes which often decide the fate of many movies.
Attempting to capitalize on its position as the first major movie festival of the year, the Berlin Film Festival has in recent years launched a drive to bolster its business side, the European Film Market.
Operating in the gracious surroundings of one of Berlin's leading museums, the Martin Gropius Bau , European Film Market organizers said a record number of companies and distributors had signed up for the Berlinale's film business market place this year.
In fact, organizers said there had been a 10-per-cent increase in the number of film industry representatives expected to turn up in Berlin for the festival.
The push by the Berlinale to boost its business component also comes in the wake of the move about three years ago to shift the American Film Market from its February slot to November.
Held in Santa Monica, the American Film Market is one of the world's premiere movie trade shows bringing together industry representatives of blockbuster Hollywood films through to low-budget films.
What is more, the US script writers' strike and its impact on film and TV production in Hollywood have also helped to boost this year's European Film Market in Berlin, with many in the industry expecting strong interest from the American movie sector.
Now in its 58th year, the Berlin Film Festival is one of the world's top three movie festivals along with Cannes, that is held in May, and Venice which is staged in late August-early September.
But while Cannes has traditionally been dominated by industry, Berlin has traditionally placed emphasis on the public. Unusual for major film festivals, the Berlinale has opened up its screenings to the ordinary filmgoer.
The Berlin Film Festival, however, is now increasingly seen by the international film industry as presenting both an opportunity to showcase new movies for the year ahead as well as a chance to begin stitching together new pan-European film financing deals.
Some 50 countries are expected to be represented at this year's Berlinale's film market when the festival opens its doors next week with about 420 exhibitors and 157 distributors having registered to join the market.
This includes 44 companies which are setting up shop in the film market for the first time. As a sign of the growing industry interest in Berlin's film market as a key centre for promoting films and arranging distribution deals, the market this year plans to stage screenings of about 700 films.
This is on top of the films that are to be shown as part of the 12-day festival's sections, including those movies that are in the race for the Berlinale's top honours .
While the majority of companies registered to join the European Film market are from Germany, Britain, France and the US, the number of exhibitors from Asia and Eastern Europe has been growing in recent years.
What is more, companies from Macedonia, Romania and Chile will join the European Film Market for the first time this year.
Film market organizers said there had also been a growing number of buyers from Korea, which in recent years has emerged as major new force in Asian cinema, as well as new companies from Argentina, Australia and the US.
In addition, and marking out the growing global recognition of Latin American cinema, the European market's Latin American Works-in- Progress section, which seeks to promote new film talent, is also celebrating a record.
Organizers said a record of more than 100 movies from Latin America had been submitted.