Berlin-bound indies

IFP to tout 8 U.S. films at Berlin fest

Gotham-based Independent Feature Project (IFP) will present a slate of eight U.S. independent films in AIM: American Independents at the Market, its annual showcase, at the European Film Market in Berlin, which runs concurrently with the Berlin Intl. Film Festival (Feb. 9-20).

While previous years have featured pics with more mainstream aspirations, this year’s lineup is eclectic, according to IFP executive director Michelle Byrd.

“It’s a diverse group of films with very distinct points of view,” she said. “One thing these films have in common is that they all portray different portraits of American life, as well as characters not typically seen on screen.”

The lineup includes two pics that that are currently screening at the Sundance Film Festival: Greg Watkins’ “A Sign From God” and Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson’s docu “Well-Founded Fear.”

The latter pic is one of five debut features going to Berlin; the others are David Barker’s “Afraid of Everything,” Mia Trachinger’s “Bunny,” Arlene Donnelly’s documentary “Naked States,” Ron Lazzeretti and Venturino Liberatore’s “The Opera Lover” and Ben Berkowitz’s “Straightman.” Rounding out the list is John Putch’s “Valerie Flake.”

In its fourth year, the program — AIM: American Independents at the Market — seeks to help indie filmmakers find international distribution.

Byrd notes IFP’s role is chiefly to give advice and make introductions. “We see ourselves as a facilitator,” she said. “We try to demystify the sales process and help explain how a market works.”

Among successes of the 1999 showcase was Roko Belic’s docu “Genghis Blues,” which was acquired by sales agent Jane Balfour at Berlin.

The pic has since been sold theatrically to Australia, New Zealand and German-speaking Europe. It is shortlisted for the Academy Award documentary category and is currently in U.S. domestic release via Roxie Releasing.

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