Bassi: Move anticipates AFM, helps Mipcom attendees

ROME — Milan-based film mart Mifed has conceded defeat in its timeslot battle against the fall edition of the American Film Market.

It has relinquished its usual November date, poached for the first time this year by AFM, and moved to Oct. 12-16, following the Oct. 4-8 Mipcom TV mart in Cannes.

Mifed director Carlo Bassi, pugnacious about standing his ground late last year after AFMA announced its Nov. 3-10 date, was philosophical on Tuesday.

“It was obvious that AFM wasn’t going to move,” he conceded at a Rome press conference, timed just before AFM, which starts in Santa Monica today.

“What we’re doing is anticipating AFM and also offering international executives who are already in Europe for Mipcom an advantage,” Bassi said.

The new dates will give sellers and buyers the option, albeit a costly one, of going to both Mifed and the November AFM.

Ironically, AFMA’s decision was designed to counter a surplus in markets — but that created two AFMs this year. However, it threatened the Milan mart, as many industryites seemed more inclined to go to AFM than Mifed.

Focusing on wrong problem

“The problem is not to have less markets, but to have markets that cost less,” Bassi countered. “I hope we will reach some kind of solution. We should be collaborating with AFM, and I hope that in the end, for the sake of the global film industry, we will.”

Bassi is confident that 80% of Mifed’s European clients and at least 65% of U.S. customers will return to Milan this year.

He cited an informal survey showing 72% of Mifed’s international clients — most of them smaller and medium-sized outfits — want more markets, while bigger U.S. players such as Miramax, Intermedia, New Line, Lakeshore and Lions Gate have grown sick of all the shlepping.

Last year 240 exhibitors and roughly 4,000 participants attended Mifed, which has been expanding its client base across Europe (including Eastern Europe) and Asia.

Not giving up

“Even if only half our customers were to come back this year, Mifed will keep going and going. We are going to fight to the bitter end,” Bassi vowed.

The shift places Mifed in synergy with the Mipcom TV market. About 80 companies go to Mipcom and Mifed, but often they are execs from separate units — TV and film.

It also forges a tie with IBTS, a primarily local Milan trade fair dedicated to digital technology hardware and content, which runs Oct. 13-16 in a neighboring Fiera di Milano pavilion.

To better liaise with Stateside companies, Mifed has hired former RAI Trade sales exec Giulia Filippelli as its U.S. rep and consultant.

As previously announced, Mifed is offering 20% discounts for all sellers and free travel and accommodations for up to 150 selected buyers. Bassi said he is also in talks with the Toronto and Venice fests to lure hot titles that unspool there to screen in Milan by offering financial incentives to the pics’ sales companies.

Mifed has rented the 19th-century Villa Erba outside Milan, near George Clooney’s digs on Lake Como, for gala screenings and confabs.

Lately the mart’s financial shoulders have become much stronger thanks to a revamp that sees it no longer run by the Fiera, but by Italy’s new state-funded entity for film promotion, AIP, which also is headed by Bassi.

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