Despite flaws, mart-fest connection continues

The American Film Market’s long-distance relationship with Hollywood-based AFI Fest is working, says fest director Christian Gaines.

Despite the grumbling from AFM participants about the nearly one-hour drive time between the two concurrently running events, the partnership continues and is heading into its fourth year.

“Is it an ideal situation? No, it’s not ideal situation,” he concedes. “We are a 10-day film festival and AFM is a seven-day market. If people go between the festival and market two to three times, we consider that a great success — and it was always supposed to be that way.”

He points out that it’s generally those who are newer to the AFM who will take advantage of the AFI Fest connection. “They tend to be younger and more flexible in their outlook, and much more likely to venture out,” the fest topper notes.

Gaines estimates hundreds of attendees come to his festival from AFM, judging from the badges he’s spied and knowing who is officially accredited with AFI. “Obviously there are far more AFI attendees at night: Things quiet down in the evenings at AFM, and we’re just getting going at 6 p.m.”

Last year 56 films shared both an AFI selection slot and an AFM sales company. Of those films, 28 made some kind of deal, says Gaines: “They either were acquired for U.S. distribution or sold international territories or negotiated U.S. remake rights.”

This year, fewer films — 34 — share both AFI and AFM berths. Among them is Cecilia Miniucchi’s Sundance and Cannes fest entry “Expired,” starring Samantha Morton and Jason Patric. Pic is repped by Icon Intl. at AFM.

Gaines notes the AFI-AFM partnership is a particular boon for the festival’s filmmakers, who run the gamut from “newbies who have never been to a market, to savvy ones with sales agents.” Each year the two events put on a breakfast for the AFI helmers at the market in Santa Monica.

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