MIPCOM kickstarts in Cannes

CANNES: The picturesque southern France escape for most of the world?s cr?me de la cr?me. It never looked better. And October is the time when it plays host to the world?s biggest television market, MipCom, just as it does to the property, music, the film and advertising and festivals at other times of the year.

The sun rises on MIPCOM 2004 in Cannes

The climate: well in the day it borders on the warm and humid and wearing a suit to meetings as you walk down the Croisette next to the famed Palias de Festivals for your next meeting at the Hotel Majestic or the Noga Hilton is a no-no. The sweat just drips and you are forced to peel off your blazer.

Indiantelevision.com founder CEO Anil Wanvari at Cannes

On the Croisette a bunch of kids from Peru are dressed up as Indians and performing as a music band. Another group of teenagers are skateboarding, performing leaps in the air and stunts as they try and impress each other. A young man in camouflage pants is working hard at earning the sympathy of the tourist packed city by throwing flames into the air from his mouth. A little further down outside a Gucci store an old man turns a hurdy-gurdy machine and churns out old world music for passerbys and begs for money. Outside a sandwich van - many such vans line the promenade - a young man with his dog, unshaven, looking sickly and homeless with his dog has dozed off on the pavement.Two older but extremely fit looking men wearing Armani suits, Tissot watches, strut the promenade with a luscious young thing sandwiched between them arm in arm. And the beach is cluttered with bodies clad in skimpy bikinis and tiny swim suits. Closer to the Hotel de Ville about five minutes from the Palais a flea market is in full swing with antiques, clothes and books on sale. Cannes definitely lives up to its reputation and does not lack for colour.

As the evening sun dips behind the mountains in the distance, the temperature drops and people once again don their jackets, blazers while the ladies wrap scarves around their necks.

A Korean band playing at the opening night of MIPCOM

There is a loud buzz all round. TV and licensing executives from more than 100 countries are assembled as they try to hawk their latest concepts formats and shows. Some are looking for funding, some for coproduction deals, some for outright sales, some for licensing and merchandising contracts with the world?s leading toy makers who have also made MipCom a rendezvous point. The Palais, we are told is expanding in the next two years, with more exhibition space coming up under the sidewalk, which has the handprints of hundreds of film stars from Hollywood, Europe and other regions. More competition for other regions which are looking at matching Cannes fabulous facilities.

TV division boss Paul Johnson views this as opportunity for the market. "There are exciting times ahead," he says. "We have had fabulous growth numbers this year for the market with double digit growth once again."

In the Noga Hilton a host of acquisition and production executives have been meeting over Saturday and Sunday, huddled in the lobby, trying to crack that next animation or kid?s show blockbuster. The action has been on at MipCom Junior as several of them have ensconced themselves in the screening booths, watching the numerous screeners companies have entered. One scouts former UTV Toons head Biren Ghose, who says he is mentoring youngsters who have big dreams for animation. This apart, he is looking at notching up some animation contracts for his fledgling company Animation Bridge.

In the conference room, a pitching session organised by Licensing magazine is on where four finalists are pitching their concepts for animation series and licensing programmes to a jury consisting of toy executives, licensing managers. One of them Bernard by BRB Entertainment is outstanding, and features a polar bear who ends up getting beaten in every minute or so episode by the elements as he makes a trip around the world. Bernard, a silent series, is outstandingly funny and the judges in unison applauds the effort.

MipCom Junior, the smaller sibling will give way to big brother MipCom which takes up all four floors of the Palais and the Riviera behind. Star, Sony, Weg India, Landmark are some of the Indian companies which have bought stand space in a bid to sell their content to the world.

It gets flagged off on 4 October. Reed Midem promises it will be action-packed. But more on that later.

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