The effects of Hurricane Sandy — which crippled the Northeast and caused endless travel problems– on the American Film Market are not easy to quantify. In fact, there seemed to be differing opinions on the number of AFM attendees affected.

Carlos Hertel of Germany’s Tele München International estimated that, because of Sandy, 20 percent of buyers arrived late. “In effect, the market started on Wednesday,” he told us, rather than its official start date of Tuesday, October 31.

Steve Arroyave of Canada’s Arrow Entertainment concurred: “The market was slow the first day and half,” he said.

An exhibitor who wished to remain anonymous (because he was privy to confidential information), told us that by Thursday, one third of the buyers hadn’t picked up their badges yet.

Jonathan Wolf, managing director of AFM, said only 50 participants were delayed by airports shutdowns, but “most were sellers, not buyers,” he said.

According to his analysis, only a dozen buyers were affected and, among them, very few Europeans. Asian and Latin participants were unaffected and, Canadians who took direct flights or avoided connections in troubled areas were also not affected.

Those who made it to the event reported mostly positive experiences at AFM, with some saying that they’d come to the market to finish up some sales that were started at MIPCOM in early October.

This year, AFM organizers added a new feature to the event — an International Pavilion with some seven stands at Le Merigot Hotel, which is adjacent to the event headquarters at the Loews and also housed a few more exhibitors.

Attendees noted a large number of new companies exhibiting for the first time this year.

According to official figures, AFM ended its run yesterday with a six percent increase in buyers (to 1,616 from 1,523 a year ago) and 35 more buying companies than 2011 (a 5 percent increase).  A total of 753 buying companies from more than 60 countries were present this year.

Regions with more buyers at the market included Asia (up 14 percent) and Latin/South America (up 17 percent). Among individual countries, Japan and Korea had the largest increase for buying companies — specifically Korea (up 26 percent) and Japan (up 23 percent).

Exhibiting companies at AFM were on par with last year, coming in at 357. There were about 700 in attendance for the AFM Conferences each day.

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