Over 200 pix to be featured; Close, Buscemi among honorees

Lower Manhattan plays host again to aspiring filmmakers as the 25th IFP Market gets under way.

Market — the first and largest of its kind — will run over the course of the week with a full sked of industry and social events. Annual event officially kicked off Sunday evening with the unspooling of “Wonderland,” the debut pic from market alum James Cox. In 1999, Cox was a short film finalist for “Atomic Tabasco.”

More than 200 projects will be featured in the Market’s three sections: Emerging Narrative, Spotlight on Documentaries and No Borders Intl. Co-Production Market. The market was substantially revamped last fall to better achieve its mission of showcasing potential projects and filmmakers. Participating projects were reduced by 40%, and the IFP/New York became more vocal about championing its selections.

Org’s exec director, Michelle Byrd, believes the changes have benefited everyone. “In terms of building bridges between emerging talent and the film industry, there is no other platform quite like the market,” she said. “There are people from all over that show up on our doorstep presenting their work. They realize it’s not just about the buying and selling of the project, but that it’s all about the community.”

Last year’s success stories included the Spanish-language project “Maria Full of Grace,” which was first spotted by IFP/New York and was eventually picked up by HBO Films.

“As always, we are extremely proud of our ethnic, cultural and gender diversity,” added Byrd. Of the projects in script development stage, 25% were penned by women; 25% of the shorts were helmed by African-Americans.

Besides market meetings, panel discussions will take place all week long at the Puck Building. Today new Focus prexy John Lyons will make his first outing in that capacity as a panelist in “Crossing the Pond: Making U.K.-U.S. Projects a Reality.” Other topics will include a case study of “Capturing the Friedmans”; “Digital Technology: Conversion or Aversion,” featuring execs from Sony, Microsoft, Madstone and Emerging Pictures; and “Based on a True Story,” with Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer-Berman (“American Splendor”) and Moises Kaufman (“The Laramie Project”).

Tonight, Gotham awards gala will honor Glenn Close, Steve Buscemi, David Linde and Ed Pressman. For the first time, event will be broadcast on IFC and then subsequently on Bravo, as has been the case with West Coast sibling the Independent Spirit Awards gala.

On Wednesday, the No Borders section will close with the New York preem of Cannes selection “Seducing Doctor Lewis.” Market awards and closing ceremony will take place Thursday, hosted by Rosie Perez and producer Lee Daniels (“Monster’s Ball”).

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