Report on the 23rd Annual IFP Market

Article excerpt

SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 5, 2001

"It used to be, the highest mountain to climb was making the film. Now it's trying to distribute it." The words of Peter Broderick, president of Next Wave Filmsand one of the many prominent guests at this year's Independent Feature Project Market in New York, sum up both the spirit and effort animating the week-long event.

Just three weeks after the September nth attack left the World Trade Center in ruins, the acrid burning odor hung in the air outside the Market's Houston Street venues, the Angelika Film Center and the Puck Building. Inside, about twenty-five hundred participants and representatives from over two hundred film-related companies rubbed elbows at some three hundred screenings, forty industry panels, cocktail parties in the Filmmakers Lounge, awards ceremonies, and expo centers featuring The Sundance Channel, Avid, Dolby Labs, and the Arizona Film Commission, to name but a few.

The showcased films included some sixty finished features, about half fictional, half documentary. Documentaries seemed to get particular attention, probably due to the recent ratings success of reality programming and the high profile of executives from documentaryoriented distributors and from channels such as Court TV, BBC, CBC, PBS, HBO, Arte, Canal+, Denmark's TV2, and Films Transit. Some showcasing filmmakers left the Market with a more realistic sense of the industry, not to mention tote bags full of cool indie swag.

Among the creative luminaries who populated some of the panels were direct-cinema pioneer Albert Maysles (Salesman, Gimme Shelter), Michael Moore (Roger and Me), Mira Nair (Mississippi Masala), Brad Anderson (Session 9), Bruno Barreto (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands), IFP alumnus John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), and Henry Bean (The Believer). Mitchell and Bean shared this year's Open Palm Award-one of several annual IFP recognitions bestowed during its Gotham Awards ceremony on the second evening.

Key indie distribution insiders were also in abundance, present on several very informative industry panels. In addition to Broderick, the list included Jeff and Mark Lipsky (Lot 47), Ira Deutchman (formerly of Cinecom and New Line/Fine Line Features, currently of Emerging Pictures and Columbia University), Lisa Heller (HBO), Debra Zimmerman (Women Make Movies), Noah Cowan (Cowboy Booking), Richard Abramowitz (formerly of Cinecom, currently of Outrider Films), and Eamonn Bowles (Magnolia Pictures, formerly of The Shooting Gallery, Miramax, and Samuel Goldwyn). One complaint: Market organizers seemed to segregate most of the panelists from the attendees; few notables were sighted circulating between panels in the Filmmakers Lounge, the event's central meeting place and nerve center. (Of course, at an event where hundreds of indies clamor for industry attention, covering every wall and table with promotional postcards and press kits, it's understandable that Market organizers would whisk their name-brand panelists off to a "green" room).

The IFP is a not-for-profit membership organization supporting American independent film-making through a variety of programs. Besides the annual Market, the IFP sponsors year-round production assistance from script through final edit; presents its major fund raiser, the annual Gotham Awards, for excellence in film production; and sponsors fellowships, overseas promotion, screenings, diversity initiatives, discounts, and networking opportunities. IFP membership is now close to 10,000 and consists of independent film producers, directors, and other motion picture professionals, with separate but affiliated chapters in New York (IFP East), Los Angeles (IFP West), Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Miami Beach. It publishes the highly respected quarterly Filmmaker Magazine and the monthly IFP Calendar. This year's Market will award over forty thousand dollars in cash and in-kind contributions to filmmakers. …