26th IFP Market & Conference Kicks Off in New York
by Eugene Hernandez
Screenings for the 26th annual IFP Market & Conference began yesterday in New York with Brad Anderson's "The Machinist" officially opening the event last night at the Ziegfeld Theater, followed by a party at Crobar. Paramount Classics will release the film theatrically October 22nd. The six-day market, which continues through Friday, showcases narrative and documentary works-in-progress with panels and workshops, four days of screenings, special events and more than 1,000 scheduled meetings between industry reps and filmmakers.
Participants serving as mentors this year include the heads of many prominent specialty distributors. Among the list are Bob Berney of Newmarket Films, Eamonn Bowles of Magnolia Pictures, David Dinerstein of Paramount Classics, David Linde of Focus Features, Jonathan Sehring of IFC Films, and Mark Urman of THINKFilm in addition to many others from the U.S. and abroad. The mentoring program is designed to match emerging narrative directors with independent film distribution veterans for advice and career counseling. Forty filmmakers will participate in this section of the IFP Market & Conference.
The Market's 'Spotlight on Documentaries' will spotlight 90 projects, including 20 features, 10 shorts and 60 works-in-progress. Documentary pioneer Albert Maysles' first solo directorial effort in over a decade headlines the roster. Maysles ("Gimme Shelter," "Grey Gardens") will present "In Transit" during the event, which also includes work from eight Academy Award-nominated directors. Other projects include Josh Aronson's ("Sound and Fury") doc about '60s singer Kenny Vance, "Feelin' No Pain," and Jeanne Jordan and Steven Ascher's ("Troublesome Creek") with "The Heywood Boys," a look at a family and their startling attempt to undo a death sentence. Rosie O'Donnell is executive producer for Andrew Filippone Jr.'s "Mina & the Family Treasure," described as a "story of fearlessness in the face of a grave and lethal foe," while Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus ("The Farm: Angola USA") and Alicia Sams ("Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's") team up to executive produce director Kristi Jacobson's doc, "Toots Shor: Bigger Than Life."
Ninety-nine projects (20 shorts, 20 works-in-progress, and 50 scripts) will participate in the Emerging Narrative section. Among the shorts set to screen at the Angelika Film Center, the site for all screenings during the event, are: writer/director Andrea Williams' "A Spoonful of Sugar," which takes a look at the issue sex for a teen who was born with HIV; writer/director Dean Hargrove's "Tap Heat," 14 minutes of tap dancing and no Dialogue; and Courtney Hunt's "Frozen River" tackling the true-life story of illegal aliens who are smuggled between New York State and Quebec by way of the frozen St. Lawrence River.
Works-in-Progress feature projects in development include Ben Odell ("Golpe de Estadio") and Jonathan Stern ("Scotland, PA," "The Vagina Monologues") presenting Stefan Schaefer's political thriller, "Confess," while Byrd MdDonald (formerly of Clinica Estetico) will presenting Portland-based James Westby's third feature, "Film Geek." Producer Vince Maggio ("Thirteen Conversations About One Thing," "Secretary") will present Scott Graham's "Drowning," a comedy about a socially inept youth who nevertheless is supported by a brilliant man. "Hell House" producer Zachary Mortensen will present the debut by Sundance Lab alumnus Leslie McCleave's "Road," starring Catherine Kellner and Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
The event's No Borders International Co-Production Market, now in its 10th year, links experienced producers with buyers, investors, and agents from around the world. This section of the Market also brings together established funding bodies such as the U.K. Film Council, Filmstiftung NRW (Germany) and Telefilm Canada. Thirty-five projects will participate in this section, all of which are scripts at the financing stage. Among the projects are "Location," the follow-up to writer/director Tom Gilroy's "Spring Forward," with Paul Mezey, Aidan Quinn, Lili Taylor and Michael Stipe attached (Mezey participated in the program in 2001 with "Maria Full of Grace"), and the directorial debut of Craig Zobel's "Turkey in the Straw," with David Gordon Green (director, "Undertow," "All the Real Girls"), and Lisa Muskat serving as producers. Additionally, the section will screen Scott Smith's "Falling Angels," starring Miranda Richardson and Callum Keith Rennie on Wednesday to close the section at the Tribeca Cinemas.
The Market's panels, held at the Puck Building in Manhattan's SoHo district, include a program of conversations with many prominent filmmakers, screenwriters and actors. Among the offerings are "From Script to Screen: Behind the Scenes of 'The Machinist'" with screenwriter Scott Kosar, director Brad Anderson, and actors Christian Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a sneak preview of the Sundance Channel's original production, "Tanner on Tanner," followed by a conversation with Robert Altman. "Tanner" revisits the principal characters from Altman and Garry Turdeau's 1988 television series, "Tanner '88." Producers Ted Hope ("The Door in the Floor"), Robin Cass ("Falling Angels"), and Trish Dolman ("Flower & Garnet") will join casting director Laura Rosenthal ("The Manchurian Candidate"), international sales vet Glen Basner (EVP, international sales and distribution at Focus Features) and Charlotte Mickie (Toronto-based managing director of Paris film sales company Celluloid Dreams) in a conversation panel titled, "Attaching Talent and Attracting Financing: The Art of Packaging Your Film."
Closing the Market on September 23rd is a sneak preview of writer/director Rodney Evans' "Brother to Brother" at the Magic Johnson Theater, with a party following at cherry lounge in Harlem. Wolfe Releasing will open the film theatrically in New York at the Cinema Village October 29th.
"With the departure of the IFP Gotham Awards from Market week, we now have an opportunity to really blow out opening night," commented IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd in a statement. "We couldn't think of a better launch of our week-long celebration of independent film than by toasting Brad Anderson, and IFP Market alumnus, and celebrating his powerful collaboration with Christian Bale. And, once it became clear that Rodney's film would open theatrically a few weeks after the Market, we decided to create a closing night event that enabled us to celebrate him, Gordon Parks, Sr. and New York's own Harlem." IFP/New York is a 25-year-old nonprofit advocacy organization serving the independent film community, and is pat of an affiliated nationwide network of IFP organizations, which also has chapters in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle.
[For more information on the IFP Market and Conference, please visit http://www.ifp.org.]
indieWIRE will have a booth at the IFP Market on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, we encourage our readers to drop by and say hello.