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Wheeling & Dealmaking in Santa Monica at The American Film Market

SNEAK PEEK: AFM 2010 Gets Into Swing with 409 Films, 49 World Premieres & 287 Market Premieres

Dim the house lights, open the curtains: the 2010 American Film Market (AFM) opens today, Nov. 3 through Nov. 10. Usually you can get a thematic read on this annual cinephile buyer/seller-ama by running through some titles.


Sounds like the American counterculture is still punching outside its cinematic weight class, while at AFM the worldwide offerings are equally as pugilistic. But in a more traditional fashion: Martial Arts Mix-ups, Action/Adventures, Ass-Kickers of all stripes, that is.

With 409 films, 49 premieres and 287 films bowing for the first time at the market, the schedule is packed with the odd and the expected.

There is no shortage of interesting backstories this year: Mark Ruffalo's directorial debut SYMPATHY FOR DELICIOUS (Orlando Bloom, Laura Linney) took about a decade to make. There's a guy from GLEE in it, who is actually disabled as is the protagonist.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's JACK GOES BOATING may inadvertently provide conclusive evidence that Hoffman is going the way of late career Orson Welles, at least in girth if not in mirth.

I'M STILL HERE is that Joaquin Phoenix meltdown doc where he is followed around by cameras, and director Casey Affleck, as he ends his acting career in hopes of hip-hop stardom. (Immediately you wonder "How come they didn't title it 'Joaquin the Line'?")

Julie Taymor's THE TEMPEST has Helen Mirren being a female Prospero as Prospera, at least that's the rumor. Fittingly, airy-fairy man-sprite Russell Brand is in it.

Helen Mirren is also bowing at AFM in her husband Taylor Hackford's LOVE RANCH, with the improbable cast of Joe Pesci, Bryan Cranston, Gina Gershon, Bai Ling, and Taryn Manning. (This is "based on the true story of Nevada's first brothel" and "follows the owners," a "husband and wife team.")

Fast-food fiend Morgan Spurlock has something called FREAKONOMICS in the running. While Josh Fox is taking on an American natural gas scandal, complete with educating all comers about "fracking," in GASLAND. Think strip-mining but with the potential for home explosion as a new eco-scourge for Joe Landowner.

THE DRY LAND, with America Ferrera and Wilmer Valderama, is getting raves -- not only for America's performance and that it's directed by her talented husband Ryan Williams, but because it was road-tested on a group of American veterans and won them over.

Josh Radnor's delightful run-on-sentence-titled HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE is the official Sundance Crowd Pleaser Award for 2010.

Lance Dustin Black, Academy Award(R) winner MILK, has a comedy called WHAT'S WRONG WITH VIRGINIA for sale or license. It features the promising cast of Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Emma Roberts.

LEMMY stars Slash (Guns & Roses) and Alice Cooper, and is a true taler about an obscure music phenom. TELSTAR: THE JOE MEEK STORY is another of the same genre, headlining Kevin Spacey.

STRICKEN, out of the Netherlands and reported to be the "highest grossing Dutch film" at $13 M EU in box office receipts, is unspooling at AFM. As is French thriller JALOUX, and MR. NICE, an English drama with Rhys Ifans and Chloe Sevigny about "the biggest gentleman's drug dealer of the 20th century."

Stars in the 400-plus films slated to be shown include, in no particular order: Zoe Saldana, Kevin Spacey, Emmanuelle Beart, Richard Dreyfuss, Charlotte Rampling, Eric Roberts, Ed Harris, Dwight Yoakam, Liev Schreiber, Rhys Ifans, Chloe Sevigny, William H. Macy, Val Kilmer, Martin Sheen, Katie Holmes, Kevin Sorbo, Hal Holbrook, Gina Gershon, Woody Harrelson, Amy Smart, Helen Hunt, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Catherine Keener, Leslie Bibb, Clive Owen, Dennis Farina, Mary Steenburgen, Michael Madsen, Megan Fox, Bill Murray.

You can logon to for more details on the pictures for sale/license this year and their respective log-lines.

During AFM, big name brands -- The Weinstein Company, Magnolia Pictures, and Morgan Creek International -- take up booth space right beside smaller filmic entities, such as Animals Are People Too, Inc.

Filmmakers from nearly every country, province, and protectorate are represented.

As for world-release fare, there are Thai police dramas, Korean thrillers, Ukranian women-in-jeopardy stories, a Serbian porn-star pot-boiler, Mandarin martial arts vigilante justice flicks, Norwegian Troll Hunters, German period whores/witch tales, Portugese middle-class melodramas, multi-genre Japanese beauties, 3-D forays into elaborate plot summaries, and a glut of residual international vampire sagas.

Thru the week of day-and-night screenings at seven different AFM-sanctioned theatres (AMC Santa Monica, Criterion, Laemmle's Monica, Broadway Complex, Fairmont Screening Rooms, Le Merigot Screening Rooms, Ocean Screening Room), there are also pundit-driven panels.

On Nov. 4, "Hong Kong: Asia's Co-production Centre and Gateway to the China Market" takes place from 3 to 4 PM PST.

Other less traditional more tantalizing panels include: "Film Marketing & New Social Media - Maximizing Exposure in the Internet Era" and "Piracy: The Real Cost of Free" set for Nov. 7; then "The 'Chick Flick' Grows Up" followed by "New Strategies on how to Package and Finance Your Independent Project Overseas" on Nov. 9.

AFM has also cooked up a social networking beast called myAFM where attendees can text their way into complicated deal structures and such... or just get dates/discounts in local shops and restaurants.

As always, the whirlwind week includes rashes of red carpet ceremonies, lush catered after parties, and VIP private screenings.

We'll do our best to cover this year's AFM (without getting too drunk or cynical), because movies make the world a little brighter (no laughing) and the cost of making films these days is just astronomical.

Stay tuned for highlights, deal memos, and breaking news from Santa Monica, Calif. at the 2010 AFM.
by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
AFM Dailies

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