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Alison Thompson to Headline Film London Production Finance Market

LONDON — Alison Thompson, former Focus Features Intl. topper and now managing director of Sunray Films, will open the Film London Production Finance Market on Oct. 15 when she delivers the event’s keynote address.

Thompson will provide the 200-plus delegates and industry guests with an insight into financing, packaging, selling and positioning a diverse range of independent feature films across low and high budget ranges. She will also share her experience of spotting and nurturing talent, and her journey from indie sales companies to working for a studio-owned company.

Thompson has built up a formidable reputation as a sales agent, representing films such as “The Crying Game,” “Motorcycle Diaries” and “Blue Jasmine.” She launched sales and production company Sunray Films earlier this year, and presented its first feature film production, “Alone in Berlin,” starring Emma Thompson and Daniel Bruhl, at the Cannes Film Festival. She is also representing Mike Leigh’s “Mr Turner.”

Having begun her career with Channel 4 and Pathe Pictures Intl., she became chief executive of The Sales Company, one of the U.K.’s top sales agencies. Before setting up Sunray Films, Thompson was co-president of Focus Features Intl., the international arm of U.S.-based Focus Features and one of the world’s leading international sales agents and financiers representing high-profile titles such as “The Constant Gardener,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Burn After Reading.”

The PFM, which runs Oct. 15-16, will see 55 producers and 55 financiers from the international marketplace conducting more than 800 meetings. Representatives from leading private equity firms, tax-structured financiers, banks, international sales companies, broadcasters, territory and mini-major distributors will be amongst the accredited delegates.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “Alison Thompson’s extensive experience in developing independent film for an international audience will offer invaluable insight into how she has successfully overcome the challenges of selling projects to a wide variety of territories. Entry to the PFM has been extremely competitive and we have a wealth of very strong international projects being pitched. I am also delighted to see Micro Market returning alongside the PFM, following a great pilot last year.”

Attracting almost 160 producer applications this year, Angus Finney, PFM project manager, noted the quality of the many of the projects being pitched at this year’s Market: “We are very pleased to announce a range of high-profile projects selected for this year’s PFM, including: Hal Vogel’s “True History of the Kelly Gang” (Daybreak Pictures); Christopher Sheppard’s “Molly” (Adventure Pictures); Mariela Besuievsky’s “Give me Your Hand” (Tornasol Films); Marta Donzelli’s “Tarda Primavera” (Vivo Film); Camilla Deakin’s “Ethel & Ernest” (Lupus Film); Carlotta Calori’s “Slam” (Indigo Film); and Mary Burke’s “Come Closer” (Warp Film).

Leading financiers attending the PFM include Endgame Entertainment, Protagonist Pictures, Bankside Films, Entertainment One, Silver Reel Partners and Lionsgate. From Europe Backup Media (France), TF1 Droits Audiovisuels (France), Filmax (Spain), International Film Partners (Germany), ZDF Enterprises (Germany), Versatile (France) and Wild Bunch (France) are also among the financiers.

The PFM has helped support more than 55 projects into production, which includes producers securing direct finance and sales and distribution deals, as well as delegates building relationships and partnerships on projects not presented at the PFM. Recent successes include “Yellowbird,” a 3D animated feature, which receives its world premiere at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Presented at PFM 2012, it found financial backing from French producers TeamTo enabling the completion of the project. The film’s sales agent, Simon Crowe from SF Films Intl., will be attending this year’s market.

In addition to Thompson’s key note address, the PFM will host specialist panels including the role of tax incentives and co-production strategies: Best new financing combinations; a Producers’ Pitching Session with up to five PFM projects to be presented “live” to a group of experts for feedback; and a case study on the BFI funded “Bypass,” which will examine a multi-layered European co-production’s route from development to the marketplace. There will also be a special networking session for U.K. producers to meet international financiers participating in the PFM.

Running since 2007, the PFM is dedicated to connecting producers and financiers to encourage new film financing relationships by facilitating 800 face to face meetings, and a further 300 financier-to-financier meetings over the two days. Previous delegates have paid overwhelming testimony to the strategic role the market now plays in the annual film calendar.

For the second year, the Film London Micro Market, an innovative U.K.-wide micro-budget finance market, will run alongside the PFM. Utilizing the structure of PFM, the Micro Market will provide a day of dedicated meetings for 24 filmmaking teams with financiers looking to source projects budgeted at €1 million ($1.3 million) and under, alongside comprehensive training in pitching.

Year on year the PFM builds on the Market’s existing international links, and earlier this year announced a new partnership with When East Meets West in Trieste. Other existing international partnerships are with the Melbourne Intl. Film Festival’s 37ºSouth Market, Ile de France Film Commission, the Rome Intl. Film Festival’s New Cinema Network, the Toronto Intl. Film Festival’s International Financing Forum (IFF), Nordic Co-Production Market at the Norwegian Intl. Film Festival in Haugesund and Rio Filme.

The Film London Production Finance Market is supported by the Mayor of London, Creative Europe, UKTI and the BFI, and is held in association with the BFI London Film Festival.

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