Every fall, the film world comes together in a swanky hotel off the beach in Santa Monica, where film producers and distributors sell (or pre-sell) their latest movie concepts to buyers from around the world. Cannes might be the best known film market, although it’s far better known for the Film Festival aspect than the film market aspect, but the American Film Market (AFM) is one of the absolute must-attend events in the industry.
The first time I attended AFM was in 1994, a somewhat desperate and very broke young man trying to raise money to make his first film, a documentary about the Los Angeles underground music scene at the time. We had lined up some pretty good bands to play at a showcase at the Hollywood Palladium, including Sublime and Pennywise (we were also trying to make a return of Operation Ivy happen), we were in discussions with the great cinematographer Tom Richmond (who had just shot “Love and a .45” and had also shot “Straight to Hell” and “The Chocolate War”) to shoot the concert with several cameras, and my producing partner had allegedly lined up Replacements bassist Tommy Stintson to be our music supervisor. But we didn’t have the money to make this happen. Hat in hand, we weaseled a meeting with a buyer from England, which allowed us to bypass the need to buy an attendee badge (several hundred dollars I most certainly did not have). While the meeting did not go as well as hoped for (the project never got made), the day I was able to roam the floors of the Loews Santa Monica Hotel was one of the greatest days as a would-be filmmaker I would have before we left that pipe dream behind, one that, like an addict, I have been trying to replicate over the years (2005-2009 and 2017) I was previously able to cover the Market.
But, sadly, due to the current political climate, with security concerns at gatherings being at an all-time high, this will be the first year in AFM history where poor schlubs like that twenty-six year old me all those years ago will not be able to just waltz in the front doors and hang out in the lobby, hoping to find some angel investor to make their dreams come true. All attendees must have a market badge of some kind.
Although it is called the American Film Market, AFM is far from a local affair. More than 7,000 industry leaders at more than 400 companies from 80 countries will be converging in Santa Monica for the eight days of deal-making, screenings, conferences, networking and parties. Participants will include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press and all those who provide various production services to the motion picture industry, including 60 new companies from 15 counties who will be making their initial AFM appearances, from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and United States.
More than 500 screenings of 300 plus films, from big budget blockbusters that will be released by the major studios to lower budget art and genre films recognized at international film festivals (with a number of world or American premieres).
Films making their World Premieres include…
- Asterix® The Secret Of The Magic Potion, from directors Louis Clichy and Alexandre Astier and starring Christian Clavier, Guillaume Briat, and Elie Semoun
- Balloon, from director Michael Herbig and starring Friedrich Mücke and Karoline Schuch (STUDIOCANAL)
- Beautiful Darkness, from directors Monty Whitebloom and Andy Delaney and starring Matthew Broderick and Chloe Sevigny (Octane Entertainment)
- Fidel Up Close, a documentary from directors Gabriel Beristain, Roberto Chile, and Eduardo ‘Tato’ Flores (Vedado Films)
- Killerman, from writer/director Malik Bader and starring Liam Hemsworth (The Solution Entertainment Group)
- Killers Anonymous, from writer/director Martin Owen and starring Gary Oldman and Jessica Alba (Fabrication Films)
- Running With the Devil, from writer/director Jason Cabell and starring Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fishburne (Moonstone Entertainment)
- Stano from director Raymond De Felitta and starring Joe Manganiello, and Sophia Vergara (Kathy Morgan International (KMI)).
Other films of note to screen will include…
- A Man in a Hurry, from director Hervé Mimran and starring Fabrice Luchini and Leila Bekhti (Gaumont)
- Bayou Caviar, which marks Cuba Gooding Jr.’s writer-director debut and stars Famke Janssen
- Celebration, a documentary on Yves Saint Laurent from director Oliver Meyrou (Playtime)
- Holy Lands, from writer/director Amanda Sthers and starring James Caan and Tom Hollander (STUDIOCANAL)
- Hot Air, from director Frank Coraci and starring Steve Coogan and Neve Campbell (Great Point Media)
- JT, from writer/director Justin Kelly and starring Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, and Diane Kruger (Fortitude International)
- Loro, from director Paolo Sorrentino and starring Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, and Riccardo Scamarcio (Pathé International)
- Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, from director Yuen Woo-Ping and starring Michelle Yeoh and Jin Zhang (Mandarin Motion Pictures)
- My Masterpiece, from director Gaston Duprat and starring Guillermo Francella and Luis Brandoni (Latido Films)
- Nomis, from writer/director David Raymond and starring Ben Kingsley and Stanley Tucci (Fortitude International)
- Rosie, from director Paddy Breathnach and starring Sarah Greene and Moe Dunford (Protagonist Pictures)
- Saint Judy, from director Sean Hanish and starring Michelle Monaghan and Common (Blue Fox Entertainment)
- Tell It To The Bees, from director Annabel Jankel and starring Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger (Film Constellation)
- The Death & Life of John F. Donovan, from director Xavier Dolan and starring Kit Harrington and Natalie Portman (Seville International)
- The Panama Papers, from director Alex Winter and narrated by Elijah Wood (Great Point Media)
- The Purity of Vengeance, from director Christoffer Boe and starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas (TrustNordisk)
Among the slate of international films to screen are two candidates for the Academy Awards Foreign Language Nomination…
- Switzerland’s submission Eldorado, from documentary filmmaker Markus Imhoof (Playtime)
- Germany’s submission Never Look Away, from writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, starring Tom Schilling, Paula Beer, and Sebastian Koch (Beta Cinema).
Man, this should be fun.
Look for our first update from the American Film Market in the coming days.