Studios on Hand at AFM1 Nov, 2007 By: Billy Gil
I Dreamt Under Water is among TLA Releasing's acquisitions at AFM.
Film distributors have been preparing for the 28th American Film Market (AFM), which began Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 7, in Santa Monica, Calif.
The festival features 522 screenings, 106 of which are premieres. AFM sold out of exhibition space at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Beach Hotel, hitting full capacity for the fourth year in a row. More than 8,000 industry players are taking part in screenings, acquisitions, red carpet premieres, seminars, networking and parties.
AFM draws participants from more than 70 countries for screenings that this year covered 34 languages.
Wheeling and dealing
As of press time, deals already had been struck at AFM. TLA Releasing acquired theatrical, home video, television and VOD entertainment rights in North America and the United Kingdom for Bangkok Love Story, a Thai film from director Poj Arnon. TLA acquired the gay-themed action film from Thailand-based sales and production company Sahamongkol Film International Co. Ltd., which was represented by EVP Gilbert Lim. The film will be released in summer 2008.
“We're ecstatic about the opportunity to collaborate with Sahamongkol Film International on this title,” said TLA Releasing VP of acquisitions Jennifer Arndt-Johns, who represented TLA in the deal.
TLA Releasing also acquired I Dreamt Under Water (J'ai r?v? sous l'eau). TLA picked up all rights for the United States, English-speaking Canada and the United Kingdom for the French film, releasing in 2008. Arndt-Johns also brokered the deal for I Dreamt Under Water. The film was represented by Paris-based sales company WIDE Management, through manager Lo?c Magneron.
Richard Wolff, partner/director of acquisitions for TLA, said the company will have a number of other acquisitions to announce, adding that the company often works with the same companies over time, although the deal with Sahamongkol Film International was a first-time deal.
“In this business you have to work so many months ahead that we're looking to fill 2008 now,” Wolff said. “We know which product works bets for us, and we try to make the best deals we can.”
Michael Baker, director of acquisitions at ThinkFilm, said AFM presents the chance to acquire higher-profile films with well-known casts as well as discover new talent.
“Some companies just stick with the companies they know best, but we're open to meeting with anyone who's around,” Baker said. “We're not picking up just any film, but I think it's important to keep your options open and not dismiss companies you haven't heard of before.”
Cinema Libre Studios is using AFM to exhibit films in its growing library for international markets, and to acquire films that fit the distributor's provocative, issue-related format. One such film being promoted is Desert Bayou, which tells of 600 Hurrican Katrina evacuees taken to an isolated military installation in Utah.
“I believe an indie company like us won't succeed if we try to copy major studios,” said Philippe Diaz, founder and head of Cinema Libre. “The only way mini studios like us will survive is if we are everywhere.”
Screen Media Films is using AFM to help supply its theatrical initiative, which this year has included such films as Something to Cheer About. Suzanne Blech, SVP of acquisitions, said the company typically releases family films, comedies, teen romance and the occasional horror film, but that the company is open to any genre. Namely it seeks films with top-name actors and directors.
Peace Arch Entertainment, which acquired Trinity Home Entertainment in July and has been ramping up its U.S. presence, is working both sides of the fence at AFM, said company president and COO John Flock. Largely to appeal to international market distributors, the company will screen five films: Chapter 27, with Jared Leto and Lindsay Lohan; Watching the Detectives, with Lucy Liu and Cillian Murphy; The Babysitters, with Cynthia Nixon and John Leguizamo; Delirious; and Guantanamero.
Additionally, Peace Arch will screen scenes from films currently in post-production: Winged Creatures, with Kate Beckinsale and Dakota Fanning; and The Deal, with William H. Macy and Meg Ryan. Flock said the company also is looking to acquire smaller fare.
A full slate of screenings
A number of notable films are making their world premieres at the festival, including: Carnera, starring F. Murray Abraham and Paul Sorvino (Epic Pictures Group); Flick, starring Faye Dunaway (AV Pictures Ltd.); Mad Money, starring Katie Holmes, Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah (Nu Image Inc.); Sanjuro, written by Akira Kurosawa (Toho Co. Ltd.); Smart People, with Thomas Hayden-Church, Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid (QED International); Tales of the Riverbank, with Jim Broadbent and Stephen Fry (Handmade Films International); and The Neighbor, with Matthew Modine (Curb Entertainment International Corp.).
Other films screening at the fest (not premiering) include Battle in Seattle (Hyde Park International), Bill (GreeneStreet Films), Death Defying Acts, (Myriad Pictures), Disengagement, (StudioCanal), Fog City Mavericks, (Starz Media), George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead(Voltage Pictures), Lars and the Real Girl, (Kimmel International) and Purple Violets, (Showcase Entertainment Inc.).
A full list of the screenings can be found at www.afmfilms.org.