Thursday, December 17, 2009

Latin America Today - In Film and in Life

OK I’m back from what seems a decade in Latin America. The most notable real life events come from seeing society’s rich and poor working side by side without seeming to be aware of one another. Days are filled with commerce in Buenos Aires and life in the night (outside of the night clubs) is filled with refuse left from the day and scavengers collecting (and eating!) all that is salvageable.

In Cuba, as the Cubans are fond of saying Castro has democratized poverty, the scale seems to have tipped upwards since my last visit in 2003 after which Bush pulled the plug on travel. It is now legal again under general licenses; LAX hosts a weekly charter as do Miami and New York.

Most notable film events in Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur, a $3,000,000 event (extravaganza?) which I hope will yield enough business for it to be repeated, perhaps not at the cost of junking the Plata Del Mar festival immediately preceding it, next year.

There were quite a few film sales including Ondamax's sales to South Korea. Zona Sur was picked up worldwide by Shoreline and will be showing in Sundance. It was the most stylish and interesting version I have seen of the rich decadents’ being replaced by the indigenous industrious. Last year's Sundance World Cinema selection from Chile, The Maid, was also a Shoreline pick up. Elephant Eye picked it up after Sundance for US and it is still running in theaters. Elephant Eye also picked up international rights to Precious. These are two canny companies to watch. Other pickups from Ventana Sur include TLA Releasing acquiring all UK rights from Wide Management to Enrique Buchichio’s Uruguayan film Leo’s Room and Jose Campusano’s Vile Romance from Argentina.

To return to Ventana Sur, my intellectual favorite was the Brazilian-Czech production Budapest about a ghostwriter being sold by Elo Audiovisual.

Cinando’s Screening Room, a 2 month extension on viewing all the films in the market, is brilliant. A specialist who is interested in music can find jewels among the market pertaining to music -- be it tango, Cuban music, Venezuelan, or Afro-Diaspora. There were six films about Cuba itself, four centering around tango, two about the Mapuche tribes of Indians who are still fighting for their rights in Chile and Argentina (they are the most apparent indigenous people to be successfully fighting off the exploiters of their lands and culture … to this day).

Seeing the young filmmakers in Cuba who work outside of the official ICAIC along with other artists, was inspiring. I came home with three projects I would like to promote: One a superbly animated ($500,000 to animate + post, etc) story of the legendary African gods worshipped in Cuba, Orishas, a modern day parable of a mortal beloved by the goddess Ochun causing the powers of the gods and humans to merge and flow only to separate again. This project should be grabbed by the top African American producers looking for a franchise. The other, Close Up, is a candid look at the marginalized youth in Havana today – from punks to gays to vampires who all hang out on the Paseo. The third project begins with the reissue of the 45 year old classic Nosotros La Musica which defined the soul of the Cuban by its music. The new version of Nosotros La Musica is being planned now. I myself am tempted to use Create Space, Amazon Video On Demand and iTunes to create a series of Cuban films or films on Latin music as a niche annuity in the film and music business, though I think it would be better served by an IFC, HBO or Magnolia who could make the event spectacular and back it up with a steady product flow.

Receiving a DVD of the IDFA competition film Eyes Wide Open (Gonzalo Arijón - winner of the Joris Ivens Award in 2007 for Stranded - and writer Eduardo Galeano - Open Veins of Latin America taking us on a journey through today's Latin America), being sold by Autlook, and being able to watch it among some politically astute Cubans in Havana, and then seeing Oliver Stone’s doc South of the Border on the closing night film in Havana were the high points of the trip. To see the democratic process working in favor of the indigenous people in Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Brazil (and the reaction we’re now seeing in Chile’s election and in Honduras’ non-election) was a transformational experience, provoking thoughtfulness and a new perception of world events. The last scene of Oliver Stone’s doc, proposing that perhaps the continuing migration of Latinos from these forward moving countries will influence their actions in the United States to create the changes in social legislation as proposed by Obama himself offers hope for the first time of a United America.

If I could program a double bill of South of the Border to be followed by Eyes Wide Open in every city with a Latin populace in the US, I would have performed my service to the country. Theatrical events, DVD and online marketing and sales, arranged around community discussion groups could rack up money comparable to the Robert Greenwald machine, or perhaps could even be sponsored by the Robert Greenwald machine, or MoveOn.Org…is anybody listening?

My next blog will be how I deal with the culture shock of return to the states. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Festival Del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, December 3 to13, 2009

There is more here than meets the eye, mainly because the festival organization is so loose that events are not announced, nor are films announced until the day before they show and nobody goes out of his or her way to be especially helpful. It helps somewhat to speak Spanish, but even the Cubans are at sea when it comes to knowing what is going on.

Winners were announced today. The Coral Award for best picture went to Peru's submission for Best Foreign Language Oscar Nomination, La Teta Asustada aka The Milk of Sorrow which premiered in Berlin, special mention and best of Caribean animation went to stop-motion 20 Anos. Association of Cuban cinematographers' prize went to El Secreto de sus Ojos Argentina's submission to the Academy and a Sony Pictures Classics pickup. The prize for the best of revolutionary culture went to La Perdida a Spanish Argentian documentary which premiered in San Sebastian, and best documentary award went to Brazil's Garapa which premiered in Berlin and went on the Tribeca. Cuban flm El Premio Flaco won critics', cineastes', and educational prizes. It is a seriocomedy about a certain Cuban community's feelings and cruelty to one of its own. Los Angeles's favorite son, Chileano Matias Lira's directorial debut Drama won the $80,000 post-production prize for works in progress from Latin America. Other prizes went to La nana 2 months in theatrical release in US by Elephant Eye grossing $412,689 to date, Cinco Dias Sin Nora, Hijos de Cuba, a prize winning doc about the Havana Boxing Academy, a Cuban boarding school that takes 9-year-old boys, and turns them into the best boxers in the world.

I spoke on an industry panel on niche and digital distribution with Alfredo Calvino of Latinofusion and Maren Kroymann of M-Appeal.

On Saturday and Sunday Ibermedia hosted a program CROSSING BORDERS where marketer John Durie, international seller Thorsten Schumacher and Jan Miller from Atlantic Film Festival presented programs and gave one-on-one consultations on film marketing, sales and pitching. The International Film School hosted networking meeings and I was amazed with some of the projects and the intelligence and training of the students.

Another 2 days were devoted to Latin America and the United States entitled That Which Should Have Been, That Which is Not Able to Be and That Which Should Be. In typical Cuban political fashion it asked the questions, What is the essence of the people?s fight in the US, Europe and Latin America?, What relationship exists among the peoples? fighters in these regions? What is the nature of change currently in Latin America? And How is USA reacting to these changes?

Curtis Hansen is here being honored for LA Confidential as is the music supervisor of Moulin Rouge, Titanic and 40 other films, Robert Kraft who began his talk by alienating his audience talking the need for millions and millions of dollars to make the great movies he does, but later warming them up by describing his inspiration and joy doing his job.

Long time and well known American ex-patriot Estela Bravo who has made 40 documentaries is showing 24 Anecdotes About Fidel Castro, a light look at Castro as related by such celebrities as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Alice Walker, Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, Alicia Alonso and others.

And it is a great time to be in Latin America. Being in Argentina for Ventana Sur opened a window on it but Havana is the starting point. My eyes opened watching Eyes Wide Open, the Uruguayan doc which premiered at IDFA and is an updated continuation of the book Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano which President Chavez gave to President Obama on his visit to Venezuela.

There is an exuberant mood of new government models occurring all over Latin America. Beginning with Cuba and followed -- finally -- with Brazil's election of President Lula, followed by Ortega's election in Nicaragua, then Bolivia's election of Ivo, Ecuador's of Correo, US's election of Obama, and -- while in Argentina -- witnessing the former leader of Tupac Amaru himself being elected President of Uruguay during the 5th year of the socialist party's leadership in that country whose middle class status has soared as a result, seeing Mercasur refuse to recognize the non election in Honduras, speaking late into the nights about politics, I feel special to be here at a time to witness these events unfolding, being discussed, being shown in the films themselves.

Last night was a major event with the special invitational showing of Tristan Bauer's Che: Un Hombre Nuevo, said to be bound for Cannes. A Cuban - Argentinean coproduction using never before seen archives from Bolivia, the film covers everything about Che's activities over his lifetime including home movies when he was a boy, footage in China, Vietnam, Bay of Pigs. It is the most comprehensive historical document of the early struggles of Cuba ever seen and took 4 years to make. The Match Factory is the international sales agent.

There are also showcases of German, French and Polish films along with those from every corner of Latin America.
By and large, except for the films from Cuba, most of the films have been in Berlin, Cannes, Ventana Sur, and other festivals (La nana , Los Viajes del Viento, Zona Sur aka Southern Zone, but the audiences here is the freshest and most enthusiastic I've seen, standing in long lines to get in, laughing at the comedies, talking back to screen, discussing as the film unreels but never disturbing other viewers. Everyone is very interested in seeing what other societies and nations are offering by way of film. The festival is the most important yearly event in Cuba. It's like being in Toronto 20 years ago when audience acclaim called the shots for acquisitions executives.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tips for If Your Film is in Sundance

Jacques Telemaque from Filmmakers Alliance has this advice for those filmmakers with the luck to make Sundance, which BTW is NOT the end-all-and-be-all or the make-or-break for your film or your career, so don't worry if it did not make it.

The following is a special "Tip Sheet" I created for my fellow Sundance filmmakers back in 2006 that I ammended slightly. But it can still be useful for this year's fest as well as for any festival filmmaker and even for non-filmmaker festival goers. Hope it helps!SUNDANCE TIP SHEET First of all, CONGRATS to everyone for having your film at Sundance. And even bigger congrats for making your film in the first place. Be prepared to have a blast. And I mean that literally - be prepared. Hopefully this email/guidebook will help. Of course, there's no way for me to know who reading this has or hasn't had a film at Sundance before, so I apologize in advance if some of this stuff proves insultingly obvious. But for those of you interested, I put this guide together to share some basic thoughts about how to get the most out of the experience. A few years ago, you could download the "Tips from Sundance alums" from I don't know if it is still available. In fact, I don't even know if they still have The Source - a web-based resource tool that the festival provided for its filmmakers. I used it back in 2006. Hopefully, it is still around and may even have been improved.

The "Tips..." was 38 pages long with some good info in there from both the short and feature filmmakers. But it is one filmmaker after another commenting, so it can be incredibly repetitive and, sometimes, contradictory. It's also not organized by topic - but still well worth reading. I hope this guide is more organized and direct. I've had two shorts at Sundance and been involved with numerous features and docs as well as having attended the festival many, many times in other capacities - as a film lover, director of a small alternative festival (Digidance 2001), president of a non-profit film collective (Filmmakers Alliance) representing the 11 films we've had in the festival and looking to introduce FA to creatively ambitious filmmakers, and finally as co-president of a private equity-financed feature film production company (FA Productions). So, if I haven't learned a thing or two over the years that I can share with others, I'm a complete idiot (entirely possible, of course). It's important to keep in mind that having a short at Sundance is very different than having a feature. And your goals for the film and yourself should be correspondingly different. Sundance is a huge festival with a lot of noise. Rising above the din is very challenging. What a short offers media types, industry types and the festival itself (in terms of furthering or maintaining its visibility) is limited in comparison to a feature so getting attention from them is difficult, to say the least. Nonetheless, there will be many people at the Festival interested in shorts and in your talent as a filmmaker who can be meaningful to you at some point in your filmmaking future - if, indeed, you are even concerned about a filmmaking future. Embrace the fact that a short has its own life and meaning at this fest - in a way that it may not at other festivals - and make the most of that reality. Whether you have a short or a feature, the most important thing is to define your goals for yourself and share them with other film savvy types who can reflect them back to you so that you know they are rooted in firm soil. Some of the things that people tell me they want out of Sundance are so unrealistic they might as well have stayed home and played the lottery.

Here are a few goals that are in the realm of possibility:
• Watch great movies and be creatively inspired by them. Watch bad films and consider thoughtfully what made them what they are and are not. My personal favorites are the docs and world cinema.
• Relax and/or ski and/or connect with friends but, over-all, just have a great time.
• Meet lots of great filmmakers with whom to build a community of support and with whom you can exchange info, resources, connections, bong hits, etc., etc.
• If you are a feature filmmaker, build interest in your film with other festival programmers and potential distribution partners (not necessarily just distributors).
• If you are a short filmmaker, you can also meet and engage festival programmers who might program the film elsewhere. And you can also introduce your film to short film distributors who might take it to one of the various short film markets and sell it to domestic cable and/or foreign television.
• Introduce your talent to the entire filmmaking universe and generate awareness of yourself as a filmmaker to watch.
• Meet producers or production execs (less likely) who might work with you in the future (and help raise funding for your work). But And you can also garner support for your future filmmaking plans from cast, crew or anybody else that thinks they can help.
• Connect with the Sundance programmers to soften the road for your future films ("Is that really possible?" - couldn't hurt and they are really nice people - and obvious fans of your work).
• Meet and engage managers and/or agents who can help you build a career (for those so inclined to chase that, I mean, exciting/elusive industry dream).
• Go to lots of parties. Get free drinks. Eat free food. Maybe "hook up".And all of these goals will have sub-goals or perhaps be more targeted depending on the type of film you've made. If your film is a work of experimental animation, and you want to meet/attract the universe that supports more of that work, your goals will be more targeted.

If you made a work of experimental animation but secretly want to make a Farelly Brothers movie, I wish you luck and have no advice whatsoever to offer in meeting that goal. I sorta listed these goals according to my own priorities, (different for each of you, of course) although I probably should have put free food and drinks higher on the list. I left off "getting hired to direct a $20 million dollar film". I also left off "win an award for your film" because that's something you have no control over should never be a goal. However, once you've defined your primary goals, it makes it easier to decide what steps you need to take to maximize the experience. Below are all of the various considerations. I've grouped them by category and offered my two cents on each of them.

General notes:
• Be Active - Take part in everything offered to you, including the orientation meetings in NY/LA (sorry, rest of the country) and all of the official Sundance activities.
• Be prepared to be active. Take your health seriously. Budget appropriately for all of the stuff you'll need to do (Sundance can be a bit expensive - but not ridiculously so with all of the filmmaker perks you'll get).
• Read and respond to all of the stuff you get from the festival staff.
• Watch films. Duh!
• Meet people. Duh! Especially filmmakers. They are your extended family and future collaborators. Wherever you go, DON'T BE AFRAID TO TALK. But, please, don't sell. Chat. Be invested/interested in who you chat with. That simple approach can lead you in all kinds of exciting directions.
• Bring as much of your crew/homies/family/friends as you can. But don't hide away with them or you won't meet people. Instead, spread them out. Have them help you meet people. Make them your publicity/promotional force.
• Listen. Pay attention to conversations. Some are great to jump into and can lead to wonderful connections. Some have great information which can lead you to get more details. Some just have great dirt.
• Stay fluid - A lot of things happen on the fly or out of the blue. Some of those things are great. Allow yourself room to flow with them.
• Don't feel like everything has to happen in Sundance - important things often happen before and after.
• Drink lots of water (I will repeat this in the "health" section).
• Relax and have fun!!!
• Be yourself!! Whatever you do, don't be desperate! People will naturally be drawn to you if you're relaxed and having fun.Where you stay:
• Hopefully, you have a place already. If not, don't panic. There are still a lot of spaces available. Finding them is the challenge. Tell everyone you know. Post on the Source. Post on Craigslit. Post on Withoutabox. If you do, something will shake loose soon. Worse comes to worse. Find a place to rent and find others to chip in with you. Worse than worse - sleep on somebody's floor. Worse than worse than worse - stay outside of Park City - even Salt lake - and then find someplace close once you get there.
• If you can't stay somewhere close when you first get there, find a way to get close once you arrive. Travel time takes a big bite out of the time, efficiency and fun. At the very least, stay close to the free Park City shuttle line.
• If you can afford it, buy privacy (you'll need downtime).

What to bring:
• This guide
• All your Sundance paperwork
• Warm clothes - with double pairs of socks.
• Waterproof shoes/boots - that won't slip on ice.
• Swimwear - Unless you insist on jumping into one of the multitude of hot tubs completely naked.
• Booze - Don't wait to buy in Utah (see food/booze).
• Postcards and Posters - Don't go crazy with these (see publicity/promotion)
• 50 to 100 DVD copies of your short film - all region (or at least region 1)
• Cell Phone - (see communications)
• Stuff to read that has nothing to do with films and filmmaking (for downtime)

Where to hang:
• Any of the festival theaters - Watch movies. Meet people. That's what you're there for.
• Filmmaker lodge - Last year located on Main St. Relaxed, fun. Great place to meet a ton of different people. Happy hour (free booze and drink) starting at 4 or 5 p.m., I believe every day.
• Festival HQ - Last year it was the Marriot near Prospector Square. This is the hub - where you check in, where the industry and Press office is located and where they have an internet lounge. Not really much room to "hang" at the press office but there are a few tables nearby. But there is a lot of traffic. Interesting traffic. It's right next to your filmmaker mailbox, which you should check pretty regularly. If not for any other reason than for an excuse to hang around the press office and meet people. The internet lounge is in the same general area. More interesting traffic. Go in there, do a little work and chat people up.
• Kimball Arts Center - A good place to check out starting from about 2 p.m. each day. There are often great receptions there no one tells you about but to which you are very welcome. They have internet stations there, too.
• Main Street - The best place over-all to run into people and fun stuff. It can be a bit obnoxious, but just wandering around it is still the thing to do if you are looking to make connections, re-connections and get info. Or maybe just have a drink or two with friends.

• Almost no need to buy food, unless you have special food needs. Most of the official parties (and unofficial ones) have food. There are so many receptions, brunches, etc., you'll be a porker by the end of the fest.
• Hit receptions early, before the food disappears.
• Restaurants are often very crowded and kind of expensive (at least right near the busy venues and Main St.). Park City is NOT a culinary paradise outside of the busy and expensive restaurants. If you do go to those places, you better make reservations as soon as possible.
• Big Condo meals ROCK! Have them with your housemates and/or with the people you meet there. Everyone shops at the Albertson's next to the Yarrow. You can meet people there, too. For hard-cores, there's a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in Salt Lake City. Google them for directions.
• If you want booze in your condo, buy it before you go to Utah. It is a dry state, so you have to buy it there in "state stores" and it is very expensive. But there is so much booze to be had at parties - for free- that I usually book a stint in rehab for right after the festival.Communicating:• People MUST be able to reach you. Stuff happens fast. You must have a cell, blackberry, etc. that will work in Park City. If you are uncertain about cost/coverage, call your service provider to make sure you're cool. And anticipate serious minutes and potential roaming charges, so call your provider now to set up the cheapest way to deal with it.
• Don't give out your condo's phone number unless your housemates take great messages and/or you have a reliable voicemail on it. Otherwise, you'll only annoy and frustrate the people who want to connect with you.

• Shuttle from airport - Have you thought about how to get from Salt Lake City airport to Park City? There are shuttles that can take you for about $40 round-trip. But you should find them on-line and book them before you leave.
• Car rental - You don't need a car, but very convenient. Cars are great to have because so many parties run late and take place in farther off places like Deer Valley. You rent at Salt Lake Airport, of course. Parking is a bitch, but not impossible. Main street is the only place it really sucks. I will park on the streets above Main on either side of it (Swede Alley running parallel to Main - or the opposite side, behind the Treasure Mountain Inn side, with several streets parallel to each other as you ascend and connected by stairs). If I don't find parking there when I need it, I'll park at the Library parking lot and jump on the shuttle into Main Street. But you don't NEED a car. It's a convenience. You will meet plenty of people that you can catch a ride with.
• Buses - Park City has a great FREE bus/shuttle system. The buses are nice and dependable, but not good if you are on a tight schedule. They don't always run as often as you like. If you are depending on them, give yourself lots of time. GREAT places to meet other people at the fest. Don't be afraid to chat on the buses.
• Shared rides - A great opportunity to engage in collectivism. You can contact a group (about 4) of filmmakers to chip in for a car for the duration and then work out some schedule for its use. It may end up costing you about the same as using the airport shuttle and add way more convenience - and allow you to connect with others.

Festival help:
• Sundance Festival Publicists. Use them as much as they'll let you, especially if you want publicity and are doing it yourself. But engage them now, not when you get to the fest. They will be swamped and naturally give their attention to whomever they've already connected with. Bug them now to tell you what media outlets might be interested in your film. If they say they don't know, SHAME them (kidding, sorta).
• The programmers. As I said, they are your champions. They love being there for you. They are indeed really nice people. When they select a film, they commit to it through the whole festival. Don't pester them for support to the point of annoyance, of course. But have them point out important people to you. Have them guide you through what you need to be doing. And feel free to express your appreciation to them without sucking up.
• Volunteers. They ROCK! Not all of them, of course, but many of them. As a whole, they seem to be very smart and committed. Some are talented filmmakers in their own right. Some have no talent at all but are very cool human beings. They can be in support of you in a myriad of ways. Be nice to them. Talk to them (and be invested in that talk). And, hell, ask them for things. • The Source. Again, not sure if they still have this. It was available in 2006 and was a great tool - although far from perfect, but still very useful. Log onto it as soon as you can to see what it offers. Use the contact info to set up meetings now (see below).

Publicity/Promotion: This is a big category, so think clearly about your goals before jumping into any of this. Do you even want to or need to publicize/promote? Not everyone does. You certainly don't have to do it to drum up audience as every screening (except early morning) will be sold out or close to it. You are doing it to create connections and visibility as a filmmaker. Or, let's be honest, just for ego. Maybe just to build a little scrapbook of the attention you garnered at Sundance. Whatever the reason is, just make sure that you have a reason so you know why and how you are putting energy into this.
• Publicist. Most will tell you don't bother with a publicist for a short - although they can be very important for features (narrative or doc). But again, that decision should be based on your personal goals as they can indeed be very useful. I used a publicist who did it as a freebie for my short in 2004. I got a lot of media attention and got into a lot of parties that I normally wouldn't. I also met a lot of people that I normally wouldn't. Did any of that move my filmmaking life forward. Not directly. The publicists (Dominion3) did a great job for me, but it did not immediately serve the life I am building for myself as a filmmaker. I'm glad I did it, though. It was fun. And my ego loved it. And I think, indirectly and over time, it did indeed help move my filmmaking life forward. One way to defray the cost of publicity is for you to get together with other filmmakers and chip in to pay for a publicist together. Or, if you are a short filmmaker in a program of shorts, chip in with all the filmmakers in your program. Not all in the program will go for it, even though they will benefit, but if enough of you do it, it will save quite a bit. Also, since publicists can only wring so much from a short, define what you want from them and settle on a price accordingly. I only asked that they arrange a few key interviews and reviews and get us into a few key parties. That shouldn't cost too much.
• Sundance Publicity Liason. As mentioned earlier, bug them now to find out what media outlets would be interested in your film or you as a filmmaker.
• Mutual cross-promoting. Again, connect with other filmmakers. See if they have similar goals. Then, you can cross-promote each other's films. Maybe even put info about their films on your postcards. Or, if you are in a shorts program, chip in together to create postcards that have the whole shorts program on it. Remember, there is strength and savings in numbers. Even if you don't have a formal cross-promotion relationship with another filmmaker, when you see a great film, talk it up. It reflects well on you. And personally, I buy into the whole karma thing.
• Reviews. Reviews are, in my mind, the best thing you can come away with regarding press attention. If they are good, you can actually make use of them instead of just file them in your scrapbook. For shorts, however, it is tough to get any publications to review individual short films, although some certainly do from time to time. It's best to get all the filmmakers together in your program and create a single DVD with all the films that you can make copies of and send out to the various publications, both off-line and on-line. The local Salt Lake City papers are great for this. I would do the trades, as well. Can't hurt. Then, there's Film Threat, indiewire and many, many more. Also, papers in NY or LA have publications that review Sundance films, like the L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, NY Times, Village Voice - definitely send it to them, as well. Please share your info with other filmmakers if you find other places to which they should send films for review. You give, you get.
• Print. Print other than reviews usually mean feature articles, which are tough to get and need a lot of lead time if they are magazines. You may want to angle to get yourself included in the festival wrap-ups that a lot of magazines do - MovieMaker, Filmmaker, The Independent, etc. But if you have an interesting filmmaking angle, I would still give them a shot now, although it is pretty late in the game. Also, you must again, consider your goals. Do you want to make an impact in the film world, or in the world that is explored in your film? If you are doing a film that deals with domestic abuse, perhaps that is the world you want to reach. What are the publications that service that world? Research it and reach out to them. Finally, if you have an interesting story angle, whether it be about filmmaking or is issue-oriented based on your film's content, you can try pitching it to the local papers or any of the hundreds - and I do mean hundreds upon hundreds - of news organizations that will be in Park City. Find out who they are and how to contact them through the Press office.
• Radio. I did a radio interview about my short at the Park City NPR affiliate, KCPW, that was arranged by my publicist. It was a great, fun interview. Call them to see if you can set one up. Call early, though. 1-435-649-9004.
• Television. Park City TV is where its at for promotion-hungry filmmakers. Sundance Channel and IFC do stuff, as well, I believe, but unless you can sell yourself as a big ticket commodity, or if your film has a "name" in it, or you yourself are a "name" who is directing a film, or you put a lot of energy into coming up with a unique and/or outrageous way to seize their attention, you aren't going to get much play with them. PCTV roams the streets looking for filmmakers to spotlight, but that is hit or miss. Contact them now to see if you can schedule and in-studio interview, 1-435-649-0045. Or see if they are interested in following you around at Sundance.... • Promotional Items. Shirts, hats, keychains, squeeze balls, balloons, etc., etc. with the film's name are commonly done, but cost bucks. Anything outside the norm will garner more attention, but cost even more. I'm not sold on how effective these things are. Personally, as a potential audience member, unless it is something really practical, I find them to be annoyances. And if they are practical, I don't even really pay attention to what's written on them. Every so often, I'll be struck by something really cool. And if you can afford it, some of those promotional items can be silly fun. But be sure to ask yourself if any of these things are even appropriate representations for your film? Will they detract from the energy of your film? They could, depending on the type of film you have. What would you hand out if you did a short documentary on starvation in Ethiopia? (insert tasteless joke here)? If I do anything, I prefer to use a simple sticker that I can paste on things all over the place, including clothing.
• DVD screeners. No, if you are a feature filmmaker. Absolutely yes, if you are shorts filmmaker. Bring 50 - 100 DVD screeners, if you can afford it. They'll go like hotcakes. Unlike features, you want your film spread around. It doesn't diminish its distribution value in the states because there virtually is none. Sundance Channel doesn't care if a hundred people get your DVDs. And you will meet many, many people who cannot make it to any of your screenings who you will want to see the film. Many are people who are "working" Sundance with whom you hope to work. People who are "working" Sundance (producers with features there, publicists, institutional funders, broadcasters, producers reps, distributors, etc.) have virtually no time to see anything. You may even meet the occasional rich patron who's time is limited. The beauty of Sundance is that everyone is there and so you never know who you are going to meet who can mean something to you in any or all of a myriad of ways. Be ready to grace them with your film. But again, this is for shorts and features that are not suited for mainstream commercial distribution. For films suitable for that kind of distribution, a different kind of strategy is usually necessary.
• Posters. Posters look great. But they are expensive and there are few places to put them in Park City due to city ordinances. The only places, really, are the Sundance-sanctioned kiosks around town. But as soon as you put them up, someone else tapes/staples over them. It's much cheaper to make smaller posters (11 x 17) and put them up everywhere. Then refresh them consistently. It's a lot of work though. Again, remember you are doing it to simply create awareness of your film in the Sundance zeitgeist since you don't need to drum up audiences. Personally, I would make the 10 posters the press office asks for and leave it at that and/or put small posters up all over my car, if I have one (or someone else's car, if they let you).
• Postcards. Good postcards are very important, but do not saddle yourself with a zillion postcards unless you are one of those promotional freaks that will roam Park City annoying the hell out of everybody. A beautifully designed card says a lot about you and your film and is a key introduction to your film and the details of the screenings (date, time, location). Use it as a business card. Put in your contact info - both permanent and in Park City - along with a synopsis, screening times, and any other pertinent info that you can fit on it without cluttering it. But be sure to design an arresting image on the front of the card in full color (unless your film is b&w). That will speak volumes for you and your film. Finally, you don't need more than a few hundred in my opinion. Take 500 to be safe. I only take about 100 because that's about how many new people I know I'll actually engage long enough to want to invite them to a screening.
• Poscards in badgholders. Postcards also fit nicely into a Sundance badgholder, turning you into your own walking billboard. Convince any other badgeholders not connected to a film to put your card - face out - on the opposite side of the badge in the badgeholder and create an ARMY of walking billboards. Or a least a few people who can walk around with your postcard in their badgeholder that others can see when the badgeholder flips, as it does invariably, to the opposite side of the badge.
• Photo ops. They're there. Take them. Why not? But don't waste time seeking them out. My publicist got me into a WireImage photo session. Those things are goofy and I have no idea what, if anything, they do for you. But, again, if you are committed to promotion and can get yourself in there without too much trouble, you might as well.

Making Connections:
• If you can, set up meetings that take place before you go to Park City - As exciting as it is to meet people at Sundance, they also tend to be very busy and distracted. Some are actually there to watch films and have limited time to meet. If you are in NY or LA or somewhere else close to the people you want to meet, use the fact that your film is in Sundance to arrange meetings with whom you want to connect. The fact that your film is in Sundance alone opens a lot of doors (no matter whether it should or shouldn't). Take advantage of that. If you are geographical unavailable or otherwise can't set up a pre-Sundance meeting, at least make a phone connection before you go so that you can complete the connection face-to-face in Park City. Who are these people to meet? That's for you to research based on your own stated priorities/goals.
• Panels. Attend the ones that interest you. The information can be good in itself, but you also can learn a lot about people in the industry with whom you hope to work by what they say on panels. Don't be shy about approaching them afterwards, although they tend to be mobbed right after the panels. If you see them later at a party or on the street - introduce yourself. Mention your movie, but don't sell it.
• Speakeasy. Not sure if they are still doing this, actually. This was the programmers' party of choice. Always after hours (after 2 p.m.). Usually happens at a particular Main Street bar, the name of which escapes me. But ask the programmers, they'll be happy to tell you. Great place to connect with other filmmakers and with the Sundance programmers - if you've got the party stamina for it.
• Movie/Ticket lines. When you find yourself in line for anything, don't just stand in line - talk to the people next to you!! You may discover quickly that you don't want to talk to them. Or they may prove to be a useful connection. Or they might just be great people with whom it is a pleasure to converse.
• Buses. Same as movie/ticket lines. Don't be afraid to talk.
• Main street. You'll often run into people on Main Street. And you'll often see people you want to meet. Usually they've done something or are doing something to make you want to meet them. Use that fact as an opening to meet them by acknowleding/appreciating what they've done or are doing. Stay away from celebrities. Those encounters are always unsatisfying and - who cares? Celebrities suck.
• Research your targets or find someone to be with who knows who is who. A big part of connecting with people is spotting the people with whom you want to connect. You will be at lots of parties and events. It's good to know who is in the room with you. Do a little focused research related to your goals about who is who. Or bring someone (or hook up with someone) who knows these people and can spot them or even make introductions for you.

Screening your film:
• Attend all of your screenings, if you can - If you are in Park City, you should be at all of your screenings. This where people discover you. This is where they make note of you. This is where you enter their thoughts and concerns. Be there to make sure that happens. And happens as you want it to happen. There are a lot of screenings, so you may inclined to miss one or two. Don't do it. You may miss something really important, least of which is the ability to connect with your Sundance audience. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how often filmmakers miss their screenings.
• Be vigilant of screening quality. The Sundance projection crew is truly amazing and among the best in the world. But stuff happens. Lots of stuff. Even If screening digitally, sound levels can be whacked. I like to stay close to a Sundance volunteer who can notify the projectionist of any issues until the film is running smoothly. But that's just me. If you worry about stuff like this, you should do it, too.
• Q & A. In general, be prepared. Know what you want to say about your film. Maybe have someone ask you random questions about it in preparation. Think about how to answer the two most general, basic questions. How did you make your film? Why did you make your film? Naturally, there are a zillion sub-questions. But if you've been thoughtful about these two biggies, you'll be able to answer most of the questions. Be as charming and distinctive (and humorous when possible) as your own personality allows. if you have that awkward moment when no audience members ask questions (inconceivable), have something ready to say. Don't hog time and go on about yourself ad nauseum, but be smart, succinct and impactful. Sum up what the making of the film meant to you and invite them to seek you out afterward. People respond to talent, but they also respond to how well you handle yourself and how your mind works. Be ready to impress your audience with more than your film.For short filmmakers, keep in mind that if your short screens before a feature, you don't get a Q & A, so make the most of your introduction before the film screens without hogging time and being obnoxious. If you are in a shorts program, you should have a Q & A, although it is always good to check in with the person introducing the program to figure out how it is going to take place. Connect with whomever is introducing/moderating (and keep tabs on them) to be sure the audience is made aware of the Q & A beforehand, and that it starts promptly after the last film. And be considerate - of the audience, of the festival and of other filmmakers if you are in a shorts program - even if your film generates the bulk of the questions. Always good to be concise.

• Buy - or otherwise get your hands on - as many tickets as you can, or can afford, to your own screening. You'll want to have them in hand for people who you really want to be there, but couldn't get a ticket elsewhere. Or people that show up out of nowhere. That happens a lot.
• Ticket swapping. So, you get 10 measly tickets to other screenings (last time I checked). And you have to pick your films in advance of the fest or you wind up with vouchers - which means waiting in the rush line each time you go to see a movie - which can be fun and useful (see making connections), but adds an extra half hour to an hour or more to each movie experience. Build a network of ticket swappers, so that when you get to the festival, hear feedback, then don't want to see a film you pre-picked you can swap those tickets out with other filmmakers (or festival attendees) to go see something you are excited about.
• Collect unusable tickets. Many filmmakers have conflicting events/parties or they are leaving early or some other reason for not using all their tickets. Many tickets get frittered away. Don't let that happen. Collect them, if you can. You go see that movie or distribute them to someone who can. If you are a potential fritterer, make sure you give your ticket(s) to someone who can use them as far in advance as possible. If you are leaving town early and not going to the closing night award party, give your tickets to your friends or fellow filmmakers.
• Ask for extra tickets. Go to the shorts desk and ask for extra tickets to your screenings. Just ask. All they can say is no. But, sometimes, they say yes. But the sooner the better.
• Ask for extra badges. Same with filmmaker badges. Ask and ye shall receive. The sooner the better. These badges don't get you into movies or ticketed events like opening and closing night galas, but they do get you into the Filmmaker Lodge and some official receptions. Ask for a couple extra for your crew/friends/posse. All they can say is no, right? But sometimes.....
• Press Screenings. Not completely sure, but I think filmmakers can go to press screenings. Get a schedule from the Sundance Industry Office (SIO) or the Press office. These are easier screenings to guarantee seating. Although there are less screening times to choose from and they are in the uncomfortable Yarrow.

• Go to all of the official Sundance parties and events - At least drop in for a bit. Those tend to be more "serious" parties with interesting people who are equally passionate about film.
• Build/Share a Party list - Databases of Sundance parties will start floating around soon. Ask other filmmakers what they know of available parties. Add them to the list and share the info. When you talk to people on lines and buses, ask them what they are doing that evening and you'll automatically learn about 4 new parties. Then spread the word. Finding/Sharing party information is a fun, easy way for filmmakers to support each other. But don't waste too much time on all this. Parties at Sundance are part of the scene and even important. But you are a filmmaker, not a professional partier (although I personally know that some of you are both). Keep your priorities straight.
• RSVP now. As soon as you hear of a party, figure out how to RSVP and do it immediately. Those lists fill up fast and can mean the difference between eating fresh seafood with your martini or sitting in your condo stuffing your face with Top Ramen.
• Don't try to be at all parties at once. Don't try to hit everything you can. It tires you out and is ultimately unproductive. If you are having fun/feeling good at a party, stay there. Settle in. If you aren't, move on quickly.
• Avoid Industry parties unless you dream the BIG dream - That means big studio/production company parties, agency parties, magazine/trade paper parties. They may have the best food and booze, but the worst people. They suck, period. And they're hard to get into even as a filmmaker - although being a filmmaker allows you to talk your way into most things. Of course, if you really want to go, there are ways. You meet a publicist, ask them to put you on the list. Go with someone on the list. Schmooze up that guy/gal on the panel and ask them if they are going to be at the Variety party. Can you tag along (only super assholes ever say no). But in my opinion, the only reason to go to those kind of parties is if you dream the big studio dream and have made a film that speaks to that dream (and the people that feed that dream). I don't, so naturally, those parties make me ill.
• Avoid Harry O's and other "bar" parties - Those suck, too. Worse than the industry parties because you get absolutely nothing out of them except hordes of Salt Lake City wannabes who care/know nothing about film and, of course, surly bouncers. Run screaming.
• Speakeasy - (see Making Connections).

Sundance Swag:
• Swag does not equal validation - You get a nice swag bag from Sundance. Be content with it. And many parties will have parting gifts or gift bags. Don't go chasing swag even though you will hear stories of free shopping sprees at Fred Segal's. Those are reserved for high-level celebs and other people that don't need free stuff. In general, try not to load yourself down with a lot of meaningless crap you have to tote around for the rest of the night and then lug back home with you.

• Sleep - Get plenty of rest before you go (at least one week), because you won't get much when you are there. However, if you start to feel run down when you are there, stop immediately. Rest. There's a nasty flu bug that goes around every year. When you are run down and your immune system is vulnerable, you're in deep poo-poo. I was down with the Sundance bug for 5 of the ten days once, trapped in bed and begging my housemates to shoot me and put me out of my misery.
• Vitamins - Start taking them now to build your immune system. They won't be so effective if you start taking them once you're there. Some wait until they are already sick. Pointless. Start now.
• Exercise - Like the other two, this is more important before you go. Park City can be extremely rigorous and you need to be in shape to deal with it. Once there, this is usually not an issue because, like most people, you will probably be doing a lot of walking. And maybe some skiing. But if you are spending to much time just sitting in movie seats, you gotta do something to get the blood pumping.
• Layers - It is usually cold as crap outside and hot inside at an event or party. The weather can also be fickle, sometimes. Dress yourself in a way that allows you to peel off clothes accordingly.
• Emergency room - When my flu bug bit its hardest, I needed professional care. The nearest emergency room I could find was in Heber City - 20 minutes away. Keep that in mind if anything comes up.

That covers all everything I can think of at the moment. I'm sure I've forgotten a bunch of stuff. And I'm sure you'll have many questions. Please feel free to post additional questions to my Facebook wall so that others can see your questions - and my answers. What I can't answer, hopefully one of you can. My goal is to start a dialogue amongst us and open the channel to sharing resources and information. I apologize for the length and density of this note, but hopefully it helps. Look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and seeing your films....and having a blast in Park City. Best,J.

Christo Dimassis
Great Sundance survival book.And always remember to have fun.Thanks Jacques
2 hours ago

Brian Chacon
Great thanks
2 hours ago

Dave O'rama
Good info, now I'm ready..I just need a good film now
2 hours ago

Diana Hart
Awesome Overview! I'm hoping at least of my films I shot (as an actor) get in.. PLUS my bday is Jan 18, great way to spend it.
2 hours ago
Write a comment...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ventana Sur, The First Latin American - European Film Market to be held on Latin American Ground.

The positive energy here is palpable. Everyone is not only happy to be here, but business is brisk. It feels like a natural place for a Latin American market with films, buyers and sellers all discussing Spanish language films con mucho gusto.

A lot of INCAA and Euro money went into this. Held in the magnificent space of Harrods next to Calle Florida where shopping deals rule, and in the Cinemark Theaters on the Rio de la Plata River, well organized with online screenings of films which will continue to be available to participants for the next two months on Cinando, it looks ordained as a key event on the market calendar.

How it will compare to Guadalajara Film Festival and Market in March is a question that hangs in the air. Cinando's participation there goes back four years with its active Co-Production Market.

On reading the list of 1,400 buyers and sellers it was a bit intimidating seeing the best names in the European business. There were far fewer American sellers, perhaps because of the Thanksgiving holiday, but there was Shoreline, Laguna, Outsider and Figa among the sellers' tables. Making an informal appearance as both buyer and seller was Maya who is proud of their first production, The Dry Land - to debut in Sundance - about a Tejano soldier returning from Iraq, produced by Sergio Aguero whose career path from the days of Trimark has been extraordinary.

Looking at the US buyers who came and who did not was also revealing. As ever, Peter Goldwyn was present. Condor's Peter Marai who is not only buying for Condor, his US video label but has already released three (European) films in his new Argentinean distribution company Mirada were here as were Richard Lorber, Film Movement, Kino and Zeitgeist, Strand, TLA, young, energetic Cuban and Brazilian owned California based Figa Films -- both buying and selling, Venevision, LAPTV, Latino Public Broadcasting, Magnolia, Music Box, Roadside Attractions (me!). Also present, Canadians Yves Dion of TVA, Mongrel, Lina Marrone representing Lolafilm sales were also here. And all the best European distributors, along with all the Latin American distributors make this intimate space very exciting.

Considering the elusive US market for foreign language films and the prevalence of French language films among them; not counting 2008 Fox Searchlight's Sundance acquisition Under the Same Moon which did gross $12,600,000, 2007's Lionsgate / Univision release of Robber of Robbers (Ladrón que roba a ladrón) which racked up $4,000,000, or 2006's Lionsgate My Brother's Wife (La Mujer de mi hermano) from Colombia which grossed almost $3,000,000, the few Spanish language films that have been released over the past three years have been few and far between and have grossed bupkas (all under $100,000). Experts in the US marketing and distribution of Latino films agree (see the blog on LALIFF) that if there were a steady flow of good product theatrically, an audience could and would be cultivated, but there has only been on film per year backed with enough marketing behind it to reach the audience.

The screenings in the Cinemark Theaters were somewhat sparse to start, with the possibility to going from one to another easy but also discouraging. Perhaps the distance from the Market itself discouraged attendance, although the last day of big screenings left me quite upbeat. Even if the films are not blatantly bidding-war-commercial, my favorites -- insightful, well produced and well directed -- were Elo Audiovisuals Budapest, Bolivia's Zona Sur with no sales agent on offer from the Cultural Center Yaneramai CCY-SRL. (NB DECEMBER 12: SHORELINE HAS PICKED UP WORLD RIGHTS AND THE FILM WILL SHOW IN SUNDANCE), and the Argentinean submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar of 2009 El Secreto de sus Ojos. The Primer Corte (works in progress) was very well attended with distributors looking to get in on the upcoming releases earlier than their competition.  The most talked about film were Los Viejos and Vacas Flakas. The 450 titles available online in the viewing booths at the market itself were being consumed avidly and the sellers report considerable sales. The films? continuing viewing availability to participants on Cinando for the next two months can keep the heat up and will also alert film buyers and sellers and perhaps festivals to the expanding possibilities of online distribution both as a new trade tool within the trade and to the next step, beyond the trade.

We will see what sales were made and we hope that they match the optimistic positive energy so in evidence so that next year we can once again partake in what we hope will be a growing market and a growing supply of young original talent.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Thessaloniki has so much to offer and between meetings and screenings, plus my current work with the Berlinale's European Film Market, there is little time to explore the environs, like, Mount Olympus and the newly excavated perfectly preserved gravesite of Philip, the father Alexander the Great and Alexander's son Alexander IV, killed before reaching the age to become king. Truly and literally classic!

Thessaloniki is situated between east (as in The Byzantine) and west Europe, at the edge of the Balkans. Aside from the market itself called Agora and organized by Margarita Eliopoulou, three sections are designed to take advantage of its geographically unique location: the Balkans, South Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

• Salonica Studio/ Four Corners, the TIFF Student Workshop - My partner Peter Belsito is busy coaching the Thessaloniki film school students in pitching and entering the world('s) markets. Thessaloniki has the largest student population in Greece.

• Balkan Fund, the TIFF Script Development Fund

• Crossroads, the TIFF Co-Production Forum

It's obvious still that Romania holds sway as the great emerging film talent in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti’s dynamic debut feature Ajami and Calin Netzer’s Romanian drama Medal Of Honour took the top prizes at the 50th Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece on November 22.

The debut film First of All, Felicia (Romania) also screened at AFI this year (and premiered at Sarajevo). This film's two debuting directors Melissa de Raaf and Razvan Radulescu are seasoned writers. Especially Razvan who wrote my favorite film from Thessaloniki last year, which surprisingly has made very little waves stateside, not even showing in Jewish Film Festivals, a film worthy of the great French Romanian playwright Ionesco, Gruber's Journey. He was the writer on Best Foreign Language Oscar winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days , The Paper Will Be Blue and The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. It's obvious Razvan should try his hand at directing. I only wish it had not been from a script that would be better made into a stage play. Well written, and very well acted, but shot in two locations with three actors, it felt too enclosed.

The side bar Crossroads, organized by Despina Mouzaki, the director of the festival itself, and Marie-Pierre Macia, had 17 projects chosen from Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Syria and Turkey, all wth experienced producers and directors attached, gathered from the Producers' Network in Cannes, the Mediterranean Film Institute, a MEDIA proramme, and Sofia Meetings of the Sofia Film Festival. Two films coming from there showed at TIFF this year: Israel's Academy Award submission Ajami and Romania's Kino Caravan.

Romania producer Tudor Giurgiu of Libra Film whose Katalin Varga is at the festival is also pitching Adalbert's Dream at Crossroads. Producer Giurgiu himself seems to be the one man organizing the entire Romanian film industy. While he would not claim this himself, in many ways he reminds me of Pusan's Mr. KIM Dong-Ho. Aside from his production company Libra Film, he is the founder of film distribution company Transilvania Film and film/ music magazine Re:public. He is also the founder and honorary President of the Transilvania Int'l Film Festival, the first and most important international festival for feature films from Romania, and founder of Romanian Film Promotion, initiator of the GOPO Awards (the annual awards for best achievemens in local filmmaking, the local equivalent to the Oscar or Cesar Awards), and is a member of the board of ACRO, Romanian Filmmakers' Association. Who knows but that in 10 years he may also be honored by Thessaloniki as the new Mr. KIM for Eastern Europe's ascendancy in world film.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thessaloniki Film Festival Honors Pusan and KOFIC presents reform plan to culture ministry

As the Thessaloniki International Film Festival waits on its own government to see its new policies toward the film industry, currently undergoing its own changes, and while TIFF's numerous activities seem to be making it the center of the Greek film industry, it honored and awarded Mr. KIM Dong-Ho, the founder of Pusan International Film Festival for his innovative and creative activities over the past 13 years working to establish Pusan as Korea's film capital. His address was eloquent and enlightening.

While in 1926 the first films were produced in Pusan, in 1945 [he did not say this, but I would note it here: "In 1945 when the U.S. army occupied the former Japanese colony of South Korea..."] theaters closed and no writers, directors, producers worked in Pusan. Every aspect of the film industry moved to Seoul, including publishing and all cultural events, creating a vacuum, or cultural wasteland in Pusan.

In 1996 Pusan International Film Festival was founded and the film industry began to reestablish its roots in Pusan.
  • In 1998 Rotterdam Cinemart -- which was formerly headed by Wouter Barendrect, the man credited with bringing Asian films to the west -- began working with PPP which essentially brought the western "players" to the east to participate in international co-productions originating in the east.
  • Pusan's Film Commission was the first in Asia to have an organized effort to bring production to locations in Pusan.
  • Extensive studio facilities continue to be built in Pusan.
  • Exports of Korean films expanded from $50 millon in 1996 to $76 million in 2005.
  • The market share of Korean films in Korea rose from 20% in 1996 to 60% in 2008.
  • Profits from the business have been reinvested in training the upcoming generations in film and in promotion of the Korean film industry.

  • And as announced in the following article in Screen Daily, (KOFIC presents reform plan to culture ministry News Screen: "The Korean Film Council (KOFIC), led by recently-appointed chairman CHO Hee-moon, reported on a plan for reform today (November 11) to the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, YOO In-chon." ) "According to an initiative to move government offices out of Seoul, KOFIC is now scheduled to move its offices to Busan by December 2012. It is due to sell its main office building in Hongneung and the Seoul Studio Complex in Namyangju by December 2011, while keeping the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) building in the Hongdae neighborhood only to re-educate and train film industry workers. "

The remainder of Screen's article leaves me wondering at the political implications of the article and which players are right, left, like-minded (with my concerns and Pusan's). However, the points made after the dizzyfying rhetoric (here quoted: The government-funded organisation has recently been suffering through what the labour union called “KOFIC’s greatest crisis” before and after the exit of its much-criticised former chairman KANG Han-sup. The problems included the staff’s weak performance evaluation and attacks from veteran filmmakers on what they called “leftist favoritism” in the years before Korea’s current right-wing administration took over. ) are important points:

I hope I will be able to speak with KIM Dong-Ho before he leaves today. If I do, this article will be revised.

Friday, November 6, 2009

AFM Rights Round Up

A WORK IN PROGRESS: Halls and the lobby of Loews remained bare and quiet until Monday when the final day approaches and buyers began congregating in final deals. Surprisingly to all multiple sales had already been made by day 2 and sales for some, if not all were better than expected even if prices were lower. At the Thursday evening European Film Promotion reception, where all friends in the biz meet with welcoming smiles, Marcus Hu of Strand said he was already packing up to go as he had made his purchases..they were already screening Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before AFM began he said. One sales agent remarked that Toronto was the zero level and AFM looked like level 1 had been reached. One sales agent said only theatrical films were selling. Jonathan Wolf says AFM has are 10% fewer sellers (369 vs. 412 in 2008) but 4% more buyers with 13 new buyers from South Korea, 10 from US, 7 from Russia and 5 from China.

To quote Screen Daily's wrap up article: "Marquee titles like a hot trio from Summit - The Beaver, Red and Vendome Pictures’ first title Source Code starring Jake Gyllenhaal - Kinology’s Buried with rising star Ryan Reynolds, IM Global’s Area 51 from Oren Peli, and Focus Features International’s (FFI)
starring George Clooney have all done well here. Buyers have flocked to Mandate International’s Paul Haggis film The Next Three Days with Russell Crowe, The Weinstein Company’s Scream 4 and Hyde Park International’s Machete."

Here's a view on sales.

6 Sales sold Ex Terminators to Ascot Elite for Germany, Four Corners in Benelux, Horizon One in Australia, CP Digital in Russa, Pro Rom in Romania, Peekshill in Poland and the Czech Republic, Falcon in the Middle East and DBS in Israel. UTV will handle US distribution.
The Dancer and the Thief has sold to Rialto for Austrial and New Zealand.

Affinity Internationalis an "old/ new" international sales agent formed by Bold Films and Odd Lot Entertainment’s international sales arms which merged as Affinity International in time to debut at AFM.

Arclight Films's Bait 3D has pre-sold rights to Paramount for Australia, Arena Comunicación for Spain, Medusa for Italy, Gussi Films for Mexico, Paris Filmes for Brazil, and Lusomundo for Portugal, VideoVision Entertainment (South Africa), Dutch Film Works (Benelux), Aqua Pinema (Turkey), Amero Mitra (Indonesia), Pioneer (Philippines), Soundspace (Thailand, India, Vietnam) and Alfa (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay), Cine Colombia (Colombia), Delta (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador), Ballistic (Middle East), Modus Vivendi (Eastern Europe) and Arena (former Yugoslavia).

Arsenal/ Mirabelle's Tribeca premiering Tell-Tale has gone to Genius and Alliance for US and Canada respectively. Susan Jackson of Turtles Crossing and WME Global handled the domestic deal for the filmmakers.

Aspect Films has licensed the already-US-Warner Bros.-DVD comedy The Utopian Society to Scandinavia (Scanbox), Romania (Globcom), and the Middle East (Front Row). Self Medicated has sold to Benelux (Homvision) and North America (THINKFilm). Four films went to Front Row for the Middle East: Familiar Strangers, Drawn and In Memory Of My Father (which has more offers in negotiation now), and The Clan. Documentary The Peter Green Story has sold to Scanbox for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia; and to airlines British Airways and Qatar Airways.
Atrix sold Buy Borrow Steal to Mediaset's RTI for pay TV in Italy and SBS TV for Belgium.

Bankside Films licensed Accidents Happen to Image Entertainment for all North American rights. Hopscotch Films has Australia and New Zealand. Blessed went to Baditri for Spain and How About You to Sherlock Films in Spain. New UK distributor Matchbox Films picked up Normal.

Bavaria Film International has licensed Krabat to Australia’s Accent Film. Liebe Mauer has sold to Isaan Entertainment in Spain and Golden Harvest in Hong Kong. Spanish buyer Contracorrientes Filmes has picked up Buddenbrooks, Van Diemen’s Land and Bothersome Man. Deliver Us From Evil has gone to Prorom in Romania, with Germany and US under negotiation. Nothing Personal has gone to Isaan in Spain and MFA Filmverlieh in Germany while US and French deals are likely to be closed soon.

CJ who has entered into a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Fortissimo has also sold White Night to Edko for Hong Kong and Catchplay for Taiwan who also acquired Secret. Killer Bride's Perfect Crime went to Golden Harvest for Hong Kong and Catchplay for Taiwan. Coproduced by Japan's Amuse Soft and TBS, it is already in release in Japan and Korea. Good Morning President which debuted in Pusan went to SPO for Japan and Catchplay for Taiwan. SPO also acquired Public Enemy Returns and Marine Boy. All done by day 2! Mother went to Festive for Singapore. Golden Slumber went to Filmware for Taiwan. Haeundae went to ECS fo the Middle East which is now sold out. White Night and Secret went to Catchplay for Taiwan.

CMG licensed Good Hair to Icon for UK, Other Angle for France, Nu Metro for South Africa and Front Row for the MIddle East. Talks continue with Eastern Europe and Madman took Australia and New Zealand prior to AFM. The Collector went to Icon for UK, CTV International for France, Rialto for Australai and New Zealnd, Splendid for Germany, Front Row for the Middle East and is talking with Mexico and Eastern Europe.

Contentfilm's Ironclad has gone to Square One in Germany, Village Films in Greece, Bowline for Czech and Slovak Republics, Pro Films in Bulgaria, Italia in the Middle East, Cinestar Films in Philippines, Monolith in Poland, Lusomundo in Portugal, Media Pro in Romania, Antena 3 in Spain, Sahmongkol in Thailand, and Umut Sanat in Turkey. Airlines and ships have been bought by Jaguar.

Dadi Entertainment, China has licensed its $23m biopic Confucius to Korea’s JL International, Thailand’s Sahamongkol and Singapore’s Cathay Keris Films. It has also gone to Hong Kong’s Intercontinental (theatrical) and Mei Ah (video & TV), Taiwan’s Applause Entertainment, Malaysia’s Golden Screen, Indonesia’s PT Amero Mitra Film and Vietnam’s BHD, and Spain’s Flins & Piniculas . Dadi and China Film Group Corporation will release the film on more than 3,000 screens across mainland China on Jan 28, 2010.

Epic Pictures has l,icensed Blood River to MIG Film for Germany, Vox for Russia, Five Stars for Brazil and Argentina, Spentzos Films for Greece and Carisma Films for Poland, Ster-Kinekor for South Africa and Gulf for the Middle East.

Films Distribution licensed The Horde to IFC Films in the US and to Showgate in Japan and is about to close a Korean deal.

Fine Cut continues its work with Pablo Trapero on the next film Carancho. Lion's Den (aka Leonera)'s French distributor Ad Vitam will also invest in the film. Cinema Epoch has acquired North American distribution rights to Eye for An Eye and Fighter in the Wind. Finecut has sealed a Japanese deal on Ounie Lecomte’s A Brand New Life, selling the Korean-French co-production to Crest International.

Forward Motion Entertainment licensed Pontypool to Anchor Bay in Asuatralia and New Zealand and Camro in Scandinavia. Earlier deals included Kaleidoscope for UK, Mirovision for So. Korea, Phoenicia for the Middle East, A-Plus for Turkey, MIG for Germany and Maple for Canada. IFC has US.

Fuji TV and Pony Canyon have sold Threads of Destiny, Happy Flight and Nobody To Watch Over Me to Continental for Hong Kong and Cathay for Singapore.

Galloping Films, headed by Carlos alperin has pre-sold Love and Virtue to Lizard Cinema for CIS, Tandem Video for Bulgaria, Falcon for the Middle East.

Gaumont licensed Last Night and Splice to Dutch FilmWorks for Benelux. La rafle (The Roundup) went to Wide for Spain. Other distributors of Splice which premiered at Sitges are
Seville Pictures for Canada, California Filmes for Brazil, Madman Entertainment for Australia and New Zealand, Mirovision for So. Korea, Quality Films for Spain, Senator Film for Germany.

Graham King's GK Films licensed Edge of Darkness and The Young Victoria to Wild Bunch for Germany and Austria.

Hanway licensed Samuel Goldwyn the US rights along with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group who will handle other "select entertainment rights" to Harry Brown.
The film launches wide in the UK this weekend.

Icon licensed East is East to Metropolitan for France, lusomundo for Portugal, Odeon for Greece, Prime Pictures for the Middle East.

IM Global sold out on Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity and expects to close a North American deal soon and has licensed Oren Peli’s Area 51 to Momentum in the UK, Concorde in Germany, Euro TV in France, Zelta in Spain, and Village Roadshow in Australia and New Zealand, and to PlayArte (Latin America), Svensk (Scandinavia), RCV (Benelux), Village Roadshow (Greece), and Gulf (Middle East.)

Independent Film Sales has sold Exm to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for UK and is collaborating with the producers on a theatrical release for the film in January.

Intandem licensed Your Perfect Angel to Mediafilm for Italy, CP Digital for CIS, Svensk for Scandinavia, Freeman for Eastern Europe, Village Roadshow for Greece, and PT Amero for Indonesia. Previous deals were made with Splendid for Germany and Lusomundo for Portugal.

Kadokawa has sold Ju-On: Whaite Ghost and Ju-on: Black Ghost to Media Blasters for US and RAM India for Singpore, Malaysia and Indonesia. CMC opens November 5 in Taiwan. Showbox of So. Korea had 300,000 admissions. The Unbroken ($20 million budget) wold to Consolidated Theaters in Hawaii.

Kathy Morgan Intl licensed The Danish Girl to Dutch FilmWorks for Benelux.

Latido licensed The Secret of Their Eyes to Sony Pictures Classics for US.

LongTale International has licensed Neten Chokling's Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint to Sweden's Axess TV.

Media Asia licensed The Legend of Chen Zhen to TF1 for France. Dream Movies took rights for Australia and New Zealand to Love In A Puff and Death Of A Hostage. Accident went o Rose Media for Thailand, Kaewon for Korea and Horizon for Turkey. Look For A Star went to Rose Media and Sky City Cinema for New Zealand. Death Of A Hostage sold to Maywin for Russia. Sky City Cinema also picked up Lady Cop & Papa Crook.

Media Luna licensed Call Girl to Only Hearts for Japan. 9 to 5: Days in Porn has gone to Beyond Home Entertainment for Australia/New Zealand with the guarantee of theatrical release in at least two cities. The Dragon House has sold to Kim Media for Korea.

Memento by day 2 has presold Black Heaven to O Brother for Benelux, PCV for Greece, Edko for Hong Kong, Catchplay for Taiwan. Haut et Court has France and the film is already tipped for Cannes.

Mirovision licensed Lifting Kingdom to Golden Harvest for Hong Kong and China. Death Bell went to KMG for Japan and Thailand and Elephant Films for French speaking territories.

MK2 licensed Belgian submission for Best Foreign Language Oscar The Misfortunates to Neo Classics (The Black Balloon, Moscow, Belgium) for US. Other distributors are Against Gravity (Il Divo, Waltz with Bashir) for Poland, A-ONE (Rumba, Dark Blue Almost Black) for Russia and the Baltic countries. MK2 Distribution releases the film on 100 prints in France on December 30.

Myriad licensed 3D English-language animated feature Dino Mom, currently in production in South Korea, sold to Gussi in Mexico, Imagem in Brazil, Cinemax in CIS/Russia, New Wave in China, Eagle Films in the Middle East, Intersonic in the Czech Republic/Hungary and MCFilms in the former Yugoslavia.Deals also closed with Polsat in Poland, ITV in Romania, Myndeform in Iceland, Aurora in the Ukraine, Delta Films in Peru, Blanco & Travieso in Venezuela and Leda Films in Latin America for Pay TV. Dino Mom went out through existing output deals with Golden Village in Singapore, VC Multimedia in Portugal, D Productions in Turkey and CineColumbia in Colombia.

Nikkatsu has sold Alien Vs Ninja to Revolver Entertainment for the UK and M Pictures for Thailand.

NonStop sold Magic Silver to BlueMedia Times for China, to Flins y Piniculas for Spain. Reykjavik-Rotterdam went to A Contracorriente in Spain.

Nu Image Films/ Millenium licensed Stallone directed The Expendables, Riot, Leaves of Grass, Labor Pains and an option on the Conan The Barbarian remake to Dutch FilmWorks for Benelux. Riot has also been sold to CatchPlay for Taiwan, Prorom Media-Trade for Romania, Wide Pictures for Spain who also acquired Trust.

Odin’s Eye has parsed out North American rights in two separate deals with Cinetic Media and Phase 4. Cinetic has acquired digital rights across all media platforms, and Phase 4 (formerly Peace Arch Home Entertainment) has home video rights. Odin’s Eye is also planning a limited North American theatrical release for the film in Feb 2010 to coincide with the Vancouver Winter Olympics and black history month.

Paramount Vantage International sales chief Alex Walton reported a ‘sensational’ response to the crime thriller remake 13 backed by Barbarian, Oceana Media and Magnet Media Group. It is close to selling out on completed titles like Overture pictures Traitor and Last Chance Harvey. 13 went to Wide for Spain. It had already presold to Distribution Company for Argentina, Midget Entertainment for Denmark, Noble Entertainment for Sweden.

Parkland Pictures licensed L'Amour Cache to Cinema Epoch for US.

Parlay Films licensed Henry's Crime to Wide for Spain.

Pathe licensed Oceans to Dutch FilmWorks for Benelux.

Protagonist Pictures has licensed Streetdance 3D to Metropolitan for France, Alliance for Canada, Aurum for Spain, Mars for South Korea, RCV for Benelux, Scanbox for Scandinavia and Front Row for the Middle East, Independent for Israel, Golden Scene for Hong Kong, Monolith for Eastern Europe, and Lens Media for China. CAA is handling the US Vertigo has set a UK release date for May 2010. Protagonist has also closed a two-picture deal with Icon for Australia for Wild Target and The Firm. NonStop took The Firm for Scandinavia. IFC Films bought Le Donk And Scor-Zay-Zee for the US, Madman took it for Australia and Front Row for the Middle East. Nativity has gone to Swift for France. Protagonist is also fielding several offers on Bel Ami .

Rézo Films licensed A Skirt Day to Cinema Epoch for US.

Roissy Films licensed The Sicilian Girl for the US.

Salt licensed US rights to Dominic Murphy’s White Lightnin', a Sundance premiering film and winner of the Hitchcock D’Or at the Dinard Film Festival and the winner this week of the international competition at the Mumbai Film Festival to Sundance Selects a Rainbow Meda label to release in theatres and on video-on-demand in 2010. Momentum currently has the film on theatrical release in the UK and it is in theatres in Benelux through Film Freak. It will be released later this year in Germany with I-On New Media and in Australia through Madman and Haut et Court has France.

SC Films (Simon Crowe's new sales agency) made deals before AFM, continuing the trend pointed out in this blog as the reason for "poor sales" reported at Toronto, that is, the majority of sales were made just before the festival/ market and are continuing still, as with Roadside Attractions pick up of The Joneses,which is being handled internationally by FilmNation. SC's Gunslinger was pre bought by Wild Bunch for Germany and Benelux, Scanbox for Scandinavia, Odeon for Greece, ECS for the Middle East.

Showbox/Mediaplex licensed Take Off to Amuse Soft Entertainment, One Dollar Distribution for China, Hong Kong and Malaysia, Catchplay for Taiwan and Horizon International for Turkey. In addition, horror title Possessed was picked up by Singapore’s Innoform Media, Malaysia’s Hua Yea Multimedia and Taiwan’s Catchplay.

Showgate has sold the hit 3D and live action film Paco And The Magical Book to Serenity Entertainment for Taiwan. The Cycling Genius Is Coming! (Shakariki!) to AV Jet for Taiwan. TV animations including Fist Of The North Star sold to Yamamoto for Italy and Mighty Media for Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan; and Casshern Sins to Odex in Singapore.

Sola licensed DVD rights Turtle: The Incredible Journey to Take Shobo for Japan.

StudioCanal has licensed the shortened feature version of Sundance Channel’s three-part mini-series Carlos The Jackal for US to IFC. The mini-series will air on the Sundance Channel in spring 2010. IFC plans an autumn 2010 theatrical and VOD release to a shortened version. Canal Plus will screen the film in early 2010.

Stylejam has sold Fine, Totally Fine to Third Window Film for the UK. Then Summer Came went to Cinema Valley for Korea, and Adrift In Tokyo to Evokative Films for Canada.

Summit has sold out on marquee titles The Beaver. Summit Entertainment will distribute in the US. Icon has taken UK and Australian rights, SND France,Telemunchen-Concorde Germany, Medusa has taken Italy, Aurum Spain, Nordisk Scandinavia, and Belga Benelux. Red rights have gone to E1 in the UK, Telemunchen-Concorde in Germany, SND in France, Aurum in Spain, and RCV in Benelux. The Ghost and Sorority Row went to to Dutch FilmWorks for Benelux. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group (SPWAG) acquired multiple territories to The Book Of Eli which now are Australia, Latin America, Spain, Scandinavia and select territories in Eastern Europe, Portugal, South Africa, New Zealand and much of Asia. Warner Bros holds North American rights and has scheduled a January 15 2010 release. Source Code went to SND in France, Kinowelt in Germany, Hopscotch in Australia and New Zealand, Aurum in Spain, Sandrew Metrnome in Scandinavia, Belga in Benelux, E1 in Canada, The Daisy in So. Korea, Sun in Latin America, Jaguar in the middle East, Fida in Turkeym Sahamongkol in Thailand, United King in Israel, Odeon in Greece, Sam Film in Iceland, and Optimum in the UK.
Tavix Pictures has closed deals on Hired Gun with Prorom for Romania and Phoenicia Pictures International for the Middle East. Tavix holds North American rights.

The Works sold I Am Love to Scanbox for Scandinavia the first morning of the market. My Year Without Sex went to Strand for the US.

Toei has pre-sold US-Japan co-production Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac to Hong Kong distributor Golden Scene.

Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) has sold Pandemic to Bona Entertainment for Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, and to J Bics Films for Thailand. Pandemic would be released Jan 17 in Japan on more than 350 screens.

Tornado Film has sold Goth, Grotesque, Twilight Syndrome - Cruise Of Death and Twilight Syndrome - Theme Park Of Death to Sahamongkol for Thailand.

Trust Nordisk licensed Cold Prey II to Indonesia (MT Entertainment) and Brazil (Flashstar). The Candidate has been sold to Indonesia (Mt Ent) and Poland (Syrena Films). Dark Floors has gone to Indonesia (MT Ent) and Love At First Hiccup has been sold to Kino Swiat (Poland).

United Pictures and M-Line Distribution pre-sold Woochi to Splendid for Germany and Benelux and Viscom Suraya for Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, and to China’s New View TV & Media. M-Line is handling European territories on the film while United Pictures handles the US and Asia.

Vision Films has closed deals on The Harder They Come starring Jimmy Cliff. with Isaan Entertainment in Spain, Arsenal Films in Germany and Dutch FilmWorks in Benelux. Xenon will release in the US.

Voltage licensed The Company You Keep to Luis De Val’s new company Wide Pictures for Spain.

We Distribution has sold Bodyguards and Assassins to E1 Entertainment for the UK and Canada, Cj Entertainment for Korea and Gulf Films for the Middle East by day 2.

Wide Management has licensed Two in the Wave to Les Films du Paradoxe for France, Cetera Films for Japan, Imovision for Brazil..all before AFM. By day 2 it licensed LaVida Loca to Fandango for Italy. Gigola presold to World Cinema for So. Korea. It is tipped for Cannes FF 2010.

Wild Bunch licensed Room in Rome to IFC for US. Other distributors of this remake of Chilean film En La Cama are Comstock (Japan), First Distributors (Hong Kong), Optimum Releasing (UK), Orlando Films (Israel), Transmission (Australia). The Good Heart went to Magnolia for US.

A quick review of IndieWire's other US pickups over the past month:
Sony Classics Has “Mother and Child”
by Peter Knegt (November 2, 2009)
Lorber Heads “Home”
by Peter Knegt (October 28, 2009)
Goldwyn to Bring “Life” to the U.S. in January
by Brian Brooks (October 27, 2009)
IFC Brings “Cairo” to the U.S.
by Brian Brooks (October 22, 2009)
Oscilloscope Brings the “Girl” to North America
by Brian Brooks (October 21, 2009)
B-Side Takes “Bill”
by Peter Knegt (October 20, 2009)