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The aisles of the Lowes Hotel will again be empty of film executives this year but the good and the great of the indie film industry will still be packing into the virtual AFM.
The five-day line-up of speakers and sessions featured for AFM 2021, which runs Nov. 1 – 5, includes top veterans of the independent business, among them XYZ partner Nick Spicer, Participant exec Liesl Copland, Millennium Film President Jeffrey Greenstein and Elevated Film Sales boss Cassian Elwes.
In total, the 2021 AFM will feature some 150 speakers in keynotes and panels covering everything from pitching projects to the development of the streaming market in Asia, to how to use the technology of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to finance and distribute indie movies.
The global push to boost diversity and representation is a theme running through much of this year’s program, with panels on equity and inclusion in film, on the market for transgender projects made by transgender talent, and a sure-to-go-viral discussion on the conflict apparent in an international film market that avidly consumes Black culture but still rejects the funding of Black stories.
In a similar vein, one of Monday’s highlight sessions, on Black filmmakers at the crossroads to success, will bring together Bron Media Corp. CMO (and Queen & Slim executive producer) Cassandra Butcher, Participant EVP Anikah McLaren, an executive producer on Judas and the Black Messiah, and Samantha Racanelli, SVP of film development and production at Endeavor Content, who has repped such projects as Boots Riley’s 2018 break-out hit Sorry to Bother You, with African-American Film Critics Association co-founder Gil L. Robertson IV to discuss how to best plot a way forward for financing and distribution of Black stories.
This year’s AFM speaker lineup is the most cosmopolitan in the market’s history, reflecting how global the independent industry has become. (The 2021 all-online format has also helped, making it easier to connect with executives worldwide via Zoom). Two must-see panels for anyone interested in developments in the fast-growing African and Latin markets are Thursday’s panel on SPLATAM (that’s Spanish and Latin America), and Friday’s roundtable on the export success of Black cast films from Africa.
“Hosting sessions online gives us a wonderful opportunity to bring in diverse voices from all backgrounds and areas of the world that can’t always travel to Santa Monica, and also program more sessions than are possible during the in-person event,” says AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf. “So we’re taking advantage of it with live speakers participating from across the globe including France, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and many other countries. We have also amassed great relationships with many leading organizations such as NAACP and NALIP and are thrilled to work with them to bring important voices and topics to our audiences.”
All AFM keynotes and panel discussions will be available on-demand a few hours after they are streamed live. For the full list of sessions, go to the AFM website.
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