Brisk business and new media on AFM agenda


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The American Film Market opened its doors Wednesday with organizers predicting that the next eight days should see deals worth $800 million spanning more than 1,000 projects.

Independent Film & Television Alliance president and CEO Jean Prewitt, whose organization produces the AFM, said the emergence of new technologies is one area of dealmaking dominating thoughts.

Prewitt said that though new technology is providing "virtually no revenue" for sales companies looking to license product for such devices as mobile or Internet licensing, it is an area in which indie sellers are looking for guidance.

"At this stage, there really isn't an advanced value put on new technology in terms of advanced guarantees or income," Prewitt said. "If the sellers are doing deals, they are trying to do revenue-sharing deals."

Prewitt also said that there are more companies attending AFM selling anti-piracy solutions for sellers and buyers looking to protect their projects.

IFTA has produced a new-media guide for members trying to strike deals in this area for its members, which it has had to update since its previous attempt, before May's Festival de Cannes.

AFM managing director and IFTA executive vp Jonathan Wolf said the AFM will host more than 900 screenings of 537 films with 34 languages spoken.

Wolf said one of the strengths of the AFM is that it is "a shopping center with no gatekeepers" because it is driven by the desires of IFTA membership.

He noted that there are more buyers from the U.S. than any other single territory, followed by Japanese acquisition reps. "That's representative of the size of each of those markets," Wolf said.

Newly appointed IFTA chairman Lloyd Kaufman, who has spent 35 years at the helm of Troma Entertainment, said he was looking to learn from the members.

Kaufman said the AFM summed up what makes America great, with "entrepreneurial skills" at the heart of everything in the indie film business.

Organizers also said that for the fourth consecutive year, AFM has reached full capacity, selling out all exhibition space at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Beach Hotel.

A total of 430 production and distribution companies from 30 countries are exhibiting at this year's AFM. Attendance is expected to beat last year's attendance of 8,208.

World premieres of market titles include "Carnera," starring F. Murray Abraham and Paul Sorvino; "Flick," with Faye Dunaway; "Sanjuro," written by the late Akira Kurosawa; and "Smart People," with Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid.