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Dunaway Not Done Yet: AFM 2006

By Liza Foreman
Los Angeles - Bizarre characters are a fact of life at the American Film Market, the annual independent-film bazaar. But this year’s event reached a new level Tuesday when Faye Dunaway emerged from the regular crowd of low-rent producers and Hollywood wannabes.
The last conference staged during the eight-day gathering (November 1st – 8th) was already wild enough with fifteen cinematographers crammed onto a small stage.
They were busy discussing the selected topic of making artful movies on a shoestring budget, when a woman with long, blond hair and a pale, beige hat took the microphone.
She didn’t identify herself at first, but she didn’t need to. In answer to her question about the PD170 camera, one of the panelists took the opportunity to ask if she liked the way he shot her in a recent film. Another commended her on a recent short film shown at the Cannes Film Festival. And soon the audience began to twig. Dunaway sat back down after her question, just like any other conference-goer. But she did give the crowd a little bit more later on.
“I just want to say, I love all of you guys. You made me look great for a lot of years,” Dunaway said upon winning an American Cinematographers’ Society manual during the event.
Reportedly present at several other of the week’s confabs, Dunaway is gathering information for “Master Class,” a feature she is set to direct based on the play of the same name, for which she owns the rights. She has become a ubiquitous presence on the confab circuit in recent years.
Earlier in the day, BAFTA/LA hosted a conference called Totems & Taboos: The Rules and Myths of the International Marketplace, with participants including First Look International’s Stuart Ford, Myriad Pictures’ Kirk D’Amico; The Works’ Chris Auty and former Miramax executive, Ian Jessel.
“I think particularly one thing that U.S. producers don’t get, is that international isn’t just one place,” Jessel quipped. “It’s not some utopia where they can recoup all the money they have unwisely spent on a project.”
The panel covered a wide range of subjects, including the emergence of hedge funds as the latest source of film financing and changes in the pre-sales business.
“We have had private equity in the independent film business for many years,” said Magus Entertainment’s Peter Wetherell in response to a question about hedge fund money eventually trickling out of the studios’ pockets and into the independent film world.
Westerns, American sports movies, dialogue-heavy U.S. comedies and musicals were among the genres identified as difficult to sell internationally.
“The business has become international and Hollywood now has to compete,” said Jessel. “They can do that very well because they have the best marketing divisions.”

About Liza Foreman