AFM: Download THR's Day 5 Daily

A look at whether or not the market can reshape its bottom-feeder image amid a rebranding push, five projects still ripe for picking and a roundtable with five indie directors.

The Hollywood Reporter has released its fifth daily issue for the American Film Market, which kicked off Wednesday in Santa Monica. The issue features a look at the efforts the event has taken to rebrand itself, five hot titles still up for grabs and THR's indie director roundtable with five helmers from around the world and across the genre spectrum.

Bottom-Feeder No More?

When comedian Adam Carolla visited AFM five years ago, he pithily summed up the popular image of the event after one swing through the lobby of the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. “If al-Qaeda hit that lobby,” he quipped of the market's headquarters, “it would take America years to replenish its supply of douche bags.” Carolla had a point, admits AFM managing director Jonathan Wolf, who acknowledges the world's leading film market has long suffered from a bit of an image problem. AFM is at the heart of the American independent film industry, and movies, ranging from indie darlings like I, Tonya to blockbusters a la Twilight, started life here. “But the only optics you had was those goofballs in the lobby,” Wolf says of the carnivalesque mix of cheap suits, bad hairpieces and desperate sales pitches that was AFM's front-facing image. But not this year. THR takes a look at what's different.

From Poms to Red Sonja

While the end of AFM 2018 is in sight as attendees contemplate life outside the Loews, these five top-tier projects were still on the block as of press time — though buyers were circling.

"Every Film Must Be Something That Has Never Been Done Before"

The power of the real was on display at this year’s AFM Independent Director Roundtable. Respected documentarian Jennifer Fox, 59, cross-examined the darkest corner of her own history for The Tale, her first fiction feature. For his English-language debut, 40-year-old Felix Van Groeningen (Belgian helmer of the Oscar-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown) chose two addiction memoirs — written by an addict and his father — for Beautiful Boy, starring Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell. Helmer Cynthia Lowen, 32, whose debut doc Netizens looked at the dangers of cyber stalking, and Russian director Victor Kossakovsky, 57, who, in Aquarela, explored the wonders of the world of water, pointed their cameras directly at contemporary life. Even first-timer Jasmin Mozaffari, 30, drew heavily on her own experiences for her debut feature, Firecrackers, about two teenagers struggling to escape their lives in a Canadian town. This eclectic group met Sept. 29 at the swanky B2 Boutique Hotel + Spa during the 2018 Zurich International Film Festival for a lively discussion on the financial and artistic challenges in getting their movies made, on the impact of #MeToo a year on and whether indie film as we know it has a future.

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