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The American Film Market — traditionally held in Santa Monica, California in the fall — has opted to move its 2021 edition entirely online.
The announcement from the Independent Film & Television Alliance follows earlier plans that AFM would follow Cannes’ lead and return to an in-person event. But the delta variant has since imposed travel restrictions that forced AFM to go online-only as it did in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
AFM 2021 Online will now be held from November 1 to 5 as it shifts one day earlier than its original dates. This year’s online market plans virtual industry offices and screenings, among other events.
“We wish we could welcome the global industry back to Santa Monica but travel regulations, increased concerns about coronavirus variants around the world and government restrictions on the ground prevent us from moving forward,” said Michael Ryan, IFTA chairperson.
“However, IFTA is thrilled to host the market the industry expects — where no one will be excluded and all of our stakeholders can immerse themselves for five days dedicated to deal making, discovery, education and reconnecting,” he added.
Many international distributors have been hesitant to return to in-person film markets after what they cited as the “efficiency” of the virtual Cannes, AFM and Berlin markets of the past year, as well as worries about a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
Concerns over the new, highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, which is spreading throughout much of North America and Europe ultimately have undermined travel plans for AFM. The Santa Monica market, which unlike Berlin and Cannes does not run alongside a film festival, could be most affected if the independent film industry decides to permanently shift most of its business online.
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