NATPE Budapest International comes to a close after four days of screenings, sessions, networking events and a flurry of activity on the market floor and suites.
A number of deals have been reported over the past few days, with buyers from across CEE picking up everything from dramas to documentaries to entertainment formats. There was also a lot of networking being done. JP Bommel, the president and CEO of NATPE, told World Screen Newsflash that this is a key part of what’s helped to make the event so successful. “It’s a business market, but we’ve built it so that there’s a lot of opportunity for networking,” he said.
“We expanded to be more international this year, and that’s because we recognize the value of MENA as a strong region,” Bommel noted. “Those territories are really burgeoning.” Bolstering this focus, NATPE organized a session about the opportunities in the MENA region that featured Nick Grande from Channel Sculptor, Sanjay Raina from Fox Networks Group and Fares Sayegh from Roya TV.
Bommel also highlighted the strength of the local production sector in CEE. “The standards of their productions are becoming such that they are setting the tone in some ways. Local productions have become very, very strong here.”
The event welcomed new buyers from Taiwan, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Kazakhstan and Thailand. And there were more buyers attending this year from Russia, Serbia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Bommel is keen to keep the momentum of growth going as well. “We are getting very good at working closely with the clients and listening to their needs. This year we introduced at NATPE Budapest a service called NATPE Connect, which is a very easy-to-use platform and very convenient. We combined platform technology with human power behind it. The results are terrific: we set up around 800 meetings through the platform.”
Looking ahead, Bommel said that NATPE aims to help foster more co-productions. Also, the plan is to focus not only on regions, but on specific countries. “We all know that culturally, every country is different. We want to make sure that we pinpoint the opportunities in each country,” said Bommel.
Continuing to attract more buyers is also top of mind. “We need to push out the walls of the hotel,” Bommel joked. “We sold out this year.”
The organization is focused on building NATPE to be a year-round calendar staple, with NATPE Miami in January and the partnership with the L.A. Screenings in May, in addition to NATPE Budapest, which Bommel said is “now a must-attend event.”