Bassi claims U.S. meet luring exhibs

VENICE — Mifed topper Carlo Bassi is claiming Americans and Brits are boycotting the Oct. 12-16 Milan film mart in order to go to the AFM in November.

Bassi said at the Venice Intl. Film Festival that he has “clear indications” AFMA put pressure on its English-lingo member companies to skip Milan after just seven U.S. companies and six from the U.K. registered for Mifed.

“They are trying to kill us,” Bassi told Daily Variety. “Based on contacts we had in Cannes, I was expecting about 40 U.S. customers.

“It’s clear that AFMA thought we were still a threat and decided to put the pressure on, which caused as many as 25 American and British companies to backpedal.”

So far 97 companies have registered for Mifed, mostly from Europe, with some from Asia and the Middle East. Bassi expects about 110 sellers, half as many as last year. More than 300 pics have been booked for screenings.

Euro players include London-based Capitol Films (the only major U.K. outfit registered), Germany’s Bavaria Film Intl. and French umbrella group Unifrance.

AFMA last year invaded the Milan mart’s November slot, forcing Mifed to change its dates to October.

“We are now working on new dates and a new format,” Bassi said, declining to be more specific.

The plan, according to sources, is to link Mifed with the Venice fest by segueing from screenings at the Lido into business and more screenings at the Milan mart. But because the Toronto Film Festival overlaps with Venice, how that can be done remains to be seen.

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