AFM 2011 By the Numbers: Overall Attendance and Buying Executives Climb

amfAR Inspiration Gala | West Hollywood, Oct. 27
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"I want everyone to be aware that AIDS still exists and we still need to do research," said Selma Blair.

Two days shy of its conclusion, statistics for this year's outing already reflect a resistant film industry.

The American Film Market doesn’t end until Wednesday, but it is already clear that overall attendance and participation in the new conference series were both strong, reflecting the rebound in the film business since the recession that hit in 2008.

Overall attendance was up 4% to 7.988 when compared to one year ago, and that was up from 2009. The number of companies that sent buyers rose 8% to 718, and the number of buying executives was up 7% to 1,523 compared to 2010, according to statistics released Monday by the Independent Film & TV Alliance., which puts on the annual event.

The AFM all time record for attendance was 8,343 during the boom days of 2007, when there were 25% more sellers at the market than this year.

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However, attendance by exhibitor affiliated participants (which includes executives, producers, talent and their guests) was down by 3% from last year to 3,321. The number of official guests (government officials, AFI Fest filmmakers, etc.) was down 14% to 658. There were 186-registered press.

The biggest jump was in what the AFM calls industry attendees – lawyers, financiers, agents, producers and others who are not just there to buy and sell. That group was up 21% to 2,402, which the organization said was a new record.

It was the industry attendees who helped sell out all five of the AFM conferences which covered finance, marketing, distribution and pitching new movie projects. Each event drew between 600 and 700 attendees. This was the first year that the AFM programmed the conference series itself, instead of having organizations like the DGA and Women In Film arrange the conferences. There  was also a successful series of “conversations” with industry figures including Director/Writer Rob Reiner; Producer Lauren Shuler Donner; Kevin Pollak; Selma Blair; Emmy-winning Amazing Race co-creator and executive producer Bertram van Munster; and Rodrigo Guerrero Rojas, the Colombian producer of Maria Full of Grace.

“Selling out the new AFM Conference Series in its first year underscores the AFM’s relevance to the production community,” said AFM Managing Director Jonathan Wolf, who is also executive vice president of IFTA.

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Among countries who increased their presence was China (up 61% to 37), Germany (up 38% to 109), the U.K. (up 16% to 73), South Korea (up 15% to 116) and Japan (up 11% to 128.

Attendance from the Middle East rose 35% to 42, and attendees from all of Asia increased 17% to 407.

Among companies, China had the biggest increase, up 50% to 21, followed by Germany (up 39% to 46) and France (up 18% to 40). There was an 8% increase in American companies participating to 137.

Other AFM  highlights, according to IFTA, were that 415 films were screened, from 35 countries, of which 69 wee world premieres and 310 were market premieres. Among those 28 movies were screened in 3D.

There were more than 700 screenings overall held at theaters on the Third Street promenade in Santa Monica and at two hotels.