Indie film confab is prelude to Sundance fest

Sixty-five independent producers will converge with buyers, sales agents and financiers from around the world in San Francisco today to kick off the seventh annual Intl. Film Financing Conference.

The brainchild of executive director Wendy Braitman and producer Michael Ehrenzweig, conference is meant to help participants bankroll works in progress and generate buzz among industry insiders in the days before Sundance.

“You get to do in a weekend what might otherwise take months of travel and phone calls,” said Braitman. She has marshaled a huge roster of players positioned to help package and acquire new indie fare, including Joe Pichirallo of Fox Searchlight, Charlotte Mickie of Alliance Atlantis Communications, Matt Brodlie of Miramax and Christoph Jorg of the French/German TV network Arte (co-producers of “Run Lola Run”) for three days of panels, workshops and screenings.

Rising profile

One sign of Iffcon’s rising profile as a film market is that directors Danielle Renfrew and Anne Makepeace will arrive at the confab with “Groove” and “Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians,” respectively — both of which are screening at Sundance.

Asian filmmaking and digital technology will be highlighted in seminars and a series of nightly screenings of films by Iffcon’s Asian invitees, including Murali Nair’s “Throne of Death,” which won the 1999 Camera d’Or prize at Cannes. Previous Iffcon films that went on to greater glory include “Crumb” and 1999’s “Better Than Chocolate.”

“I’ve certainly met a lot of good new talent through Iffcon,” says Pichirallo, who has attended the conference the last three years.

Worth the price

While acknowledging that the $475 Iffcon entrance fee may be prohibitive for some indie filmmakers, Braitman noted that the Bay Area setting and highly structured schedule of events will help participants, selected from a pool of more than 100 candidates, focus on learning how to overcome the many hurdles to indie film financing — “not something people learn in film school, for the most part,” she said.

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