Germany leads European presence at AFM
by Liza Foreman
03/11/2011 - European companies, including France’s Gaumont and Germany’s The Match Factory, reported strong first days at the American Film Market on Wednesday, despite an apparent lack of foot traffic.
Gaumont were riding high on the French release this week of their film Intouchables [trailer], which they said set a record for the French box office for this year when it was released on Wednesday. They were promoting the film heavily at the market, following it winning the main prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival last week.
Other films in the Gaumont line up include Oliver Marachal’s A Gang Story, about a notorious gang from Lyon, and Luis Prieto’s Pusher a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 classic, putting Europe front and centre in the California beach town of Santa Monica, where the market takes place.
Representing the second largest increase in buyers after China this year, German sales companies are also putting on a strong show.
At Cologne-based The Match Factory, films being promoted represent a truly pan-European line up, including 4 Days in May [trailer] from Germany’s Achim von Borries; the Spanish film The Sleeping Voice from Benito Zambrano, Norwegian title Babycall [trailer] from Pal Sletaune; the French picture And If We All Lived Together? [trailer] by Stephane Robelin and the Danish film Superclasico [trailer] by Ole Christian Madsen. “We have had a robust first day,” said the company’s Jenny Walendy.
Munich-based Beta Cinema were also actively promoting quirky new films, such as Men in the City 2 [trailer], which will be directed by Hermine Huntgeburth, and a dramatic East-West love story, Westwind [trailer].
European announcements Wednesday included The Little Film Company taking on sales of A Doll's House, an adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen play. Charles Huddleston is producing and will direct from the screenplay he co-wrote with Michele Martin who also stars alongside Ben Kingsley, Julian Sands and Jena Malone.
Wild Bunch Production and Worldview, meanwhile, said that they are co-producing James Gray's latest picture, an untitled period with Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix.
Top directors also put in a show. Ron Howard made the trek down to meet with buyers at Exclusive with whom he is collaborating, for the third time, on the Formula 1 film Rush.
Europeans are facing strong competition particularly from Asia this year, with a string of fusion projects in the works, such as the latest film from Peter Webber Emperor which will be a co-production between New Zealand and Japan. And China this year is bringing double the number of participants than last.
China showed the biggest increase here overall with buyers up more than 50%. Germany follows with an increase of 30%. Meanwhile, buyers from Mongolia and Cambodia will attend the market for thefirst time. A total of 415 films will screen here, including 69 world premieres and 310 market premieres.
According to the press office, this year will see 90 new buying companies attend with buyer registration tracking at an increase of 10% and general attendance tracking higher than in 2010.
“With buyers up and screenings on par with last year, we expect a very healthy and active market,” AFM Managing and Executive Director Jonathan Wolf said. Organizers expect more than $800 million in deals to be sealed here this week.