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AFM wraped up sucessful year with figures in the risr

"American Film Market Wraps Up Successful Year, Looks Forward To Continued Partnership with AFI FEST

by Chris Davison

This year's American Film Market (AFM) took place from November 2-9 in Santa Monica, and achieved substantial gains in exhibitors, buyers and overall attendance. The number of attendees across all categories--including exhibitors, buyers, industry badges, press and guests--reached a record high of 8,014, a 13% increase over last year's total. Buyers came from 62 different countries and a record 534 films in 35 languages were screened.

As a representative of AFI FEST 2005 presented by Audi, I recently interviewed Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director of AFM.
AFI: Can you tell us a bit about the history of the AFM--when, how and why it started?
Wolf: It started in 1981, when a group of sales agents who had been going to Cannes felt that Hollywood needed a world-class market for the buying and selling of film rights. The first event consisted of a little over 30 companies gathering at the Westwood Marquis hotel.

AFI: In general, how did things go at this year's AFM?
Wolf: This year's market was great. Two things any show organizer looks at are, 1) How well was the event organized, did we bring the world's buyers and sellers together to achieve critical mass under one roof? Our record attendance numbers show that we delivered buyers to sellers and sellers to buyers, that we accomplished this goal; and 2) Did those that came accomplish the business they came to do? We are hearing that those at the market accomplished what they came to do.

AFI: How does this year's AFM compare to previous years?
Wolf: The market evolves to reflect the changing film industry. The changes we are seeing are clearly in size: this year we added five high-definition screening rooms, we had 31 theaters and we added another floor of exhibition space to accommodate 40 more companies. These changes are the result of a global expansion in the production of feature films; we had first-time producers/distributors coming from 24 countries. The growth of film production is not a local or regional thing or the result of a particular investment opportunity but really is global growth.

AFI: What are some of the advantages of the AFI-AFM strategic alliance?
Wolf: The presence of AFI FEST adds marketing visibility to films in both the festival and the market. This year 45 festival selections were also being sold at the AFM and these films benefited from the extra visibility. Production companies brought talent to AFI FEST then over to the AFM as well, the strategic alliance provides them an opportunity to promote their film at a festival while the world's buyers are in town at the same time. Other than Cannes and Berlin we are the only opportunity of this type, and the only one in the Western Hemisphere.

AFI: What are your plans for the future integration of AFI FEST and AFM?
Wolf: Putting the issue of geography aside it's all about creating benefits and tie-ins for the companies and producers and filmmakers whose films are in the market and the festival. Our alliance is here to serve that audience, the filmmakers whose films are also in the festival. It's not about bringing thousands of people here to do business and then have them see films at the Festival--we have films screening here at AFM. It's about serving the filmmakers whose films are in both events and assisting them in using this unique opportunity.

by Chris Davison


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