New media firms provide X-factor

Record rookies lineup at IFFM

NEW YORK — This year’s Independent Feature Film Market, which unfurls its lineup of projects at the Angelika Film Center today, will be graced with something that the market hasn’t had for years: new sources of revenue.

New-media companies such as online distributors AtomFilms, Global Independence, Trimark Internet division Cinema Now and iFilm will constitute the largest contingent of first-time attendees at this year’s market. And according to market organizers, most of these companies will be in an intensive acquisition mode.

While vets such as Miramax, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, Artisan, Fine Line, Lions Gate and Trimark will be the key players, it’s the new media companies that will be the X-factor in this year’s market.

“I think the whole idea of the Internet as a viable means for exhibition and distribution really turned a corner in ’99, and I think that’s evidenced by the number of (new-media) companies attending not just as buyers but as sponsors,” Independent Feature Project exec director Michelle Byrd told Daily Variety. (The IFP runs the IFFM.)

Upstart companies such as San Francisco-based iFilms, which didn’t even exist during last year’s market, will have its eyes open for what CEO Rodger Raderman terms “content partners,” i.e., filmmakers or distributors willing to share revenues in exchange for iFilm’s posting their films on its Web site.

Digital ventures

Digital film advocate and Next Wave Films prexy Peter Broderick will also be at IFFM to spread the good word for the inexpensive technology. While the market drew fewer digitally shot submissions than expected, Byrd believes that the next few years will see burgeoning use of the low-budget format.

Next Wave will be scouting works in progress for those in need of finishing support. Companies offering such completion funding will be particularly integral to this year’s market as many unfinished films — such as “Paris Is Burning” doc director Jennie Livingston’s feature debut, “Who’s the Top?” and San Francisco filmmaking vet William Farley’s “My Father Was a Pyromaniac” — are generating more buzz than the finished ones.

The IFFM’s Rough Cuts sidebar will project on video 10 of the works in progress in their entirety; the rest will be viewed in clip form.

Market vets can anticipate both the expected fare of onsite and video library screenings and seminars, as well as a crop of fresh events.

Upcoming Trimark Entertainment release “Joe the King”– the helming and scripting debut of actor Frank Whaley — follows Friday’s kickoff seminar featuring indie filmmakers with recently completed pics, all to take place at City Cinemas Village East Theater.

Indie celebration

The ninth IFP Gotham Awards, to be hosted by Sandra Bernhard and co-chaired by Miramax’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein, will take place Wednesday evening at Chelsea Piers.

Meryl Streep will get the lifetime achievement award at this year’s Gothams; helmer David Riker has landed the Open Palm award for “La Ciudad”; thesps Janet McTeer and Dylan Baker will get the Perry Ellis Breakthrough award for their turns in “Tumbleweeds” and “Happiness,” respectively; indie vet Christine Vachon (“Happiness”) will pick up the producer award; and Carter Burwell (“Fargo”) will receive this year’s composer award.

Alan J. Pakula’s 1971 thriller “Klute” will be the first honoree of the WinStar Classic Tribute. The award, representing the first time a single pic will be singled out for a salute at the Gothams, is designed to serve as a continual reminder to the indie community of the art of filmmaking.

Also new to the IFFM this year is New Voices: Canada, designed to promote all genres of Canuck product. This sidebar, sponsored by Telefilm Canada, consists of five new features to be screened at the Angelika from Sunday to Sept. 24.

The debuting Heathcote Art Foundation Fellowship for Screenplay development will award $2,500 to a script without an attached producer; the winner will be announced Tuesday.

Monetary awards

Among the market’s ongoing events is the third annual Gordon Parks Awards on Saturday, which will bestow $10,000 prizes on a black screenwriter and a black director. And the IFC2000 Awards — taking place Wednesday — will honor three student filmmakers in narrative feature, docu and animation categories, the grand-prize winner receive $20,000 in cash and Kodak film.

No Borders — an invite-only matchmaking forum for works in progress and completion backers –will make its fifth annual appearance Sunday through Thursday. This year, 47 projects will participate in the program of round tables and individual meetings, which has led to the completion of 23% of past participating projects.

(Oliver Jones in New York contributed to this report.)