IFP/New York Celebrates Year 25 with Annual Market and Gotham Awards
by Eugene Hernandez
The 25th IFP Market kicked off here in downtown New York on Monday, with the start of screenings at the Angelika Film Center, the opening of the film conference at the Puck Building, and the annual Gotham Awards at Chelsea Piers. Also ongoing is the No Borders co-productions market sidebar that runs through Wednesday night at the Puck.
Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman won the Open Palm Award this year for "American Splendor," while Lee Pace won the breakthrough actor award for his role in "Soldier's Girl." Gotham Awards were also presented to producer Ed Pressman, actress Glenn Close and actor Steve Buscemi, as well as Focus Features co-president David Linde.
Producer Ed Pressman, chairman of ContentFilm, was presented with his Gotham Award by actor Alec Baldwin, who earlier in the day announced plans to work with Content on a new project. ContentFilm will co-produce "The Swimmer," a re-make of the 1968 Frank Perry classic, with Baldwin's El Dorado Pictures and Vincent Farrell's Iron Films. Baldwin will star in the title role, originally played by Burt Lancaster. The film is described as the story of "a middle-aged suburbanite who travels home via one backyard swimming pool to the next, each stop evoking a different rush of memories." A director has not yet been set for the project, which will go into production in the spring or summer of 2004.
On Monday, sizable crowds gathered in the ballroom at the Puck Building for panel discussions, while other attendees milled around in the exposition area that is hosting a number of companies and organizations.
Indeed, again this year many are tracking the documentaries that are being showcased as works-in-progress at the IFP Market. Talking about the importance of the IFP Market for docs, during the opening panel on Monday IFC acquisitions exec Kelly DeVine said that the event has become the must-attend American event for catching important new doc work at this stage. This year, 107 docs will be screened at the Angelika as part of the annual Spotlight on Documentaries and No Borders sections. According to organizers, 75 percent of offerings are works-in-progress, with the rest comprised of 21 completed feature docs and 11 documentary shorts.
Monday's panel, a look at how attendees can develop strategies for tackling markets and festivals, also included Sundance programmer Shari Frilot, Berlinale Panorama programmer Wieland Speck, Samuel Goldwyn acquisitions exec Tom Quinn, publicist Jeremy Walker, and Redbus exec Nick Manzi.
Notable news for those who are finishing films in time for the Sundance deadline came from Sundance's Frilot and Berlin's Speck. The two confirmed that their respective festivals are now working more closely together to bring Sundance 2004 films to Berlin the following month. Frilot called the project the "Sundance - Berlin Express," while Speck said that he expects to see Sundance films in all sections of the Berlinale, including the festival's competition. He also noted that as the Berlinale submissions deadline falls shortly after that of Sundance, filmmakers and producers sometimes overlook submitting their films to the Berlin festival.
In other news that is likely to be a hot topic during Tuesday's Digital Technology: Conversion or Aversion panel, Wyoming's Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, Emerging Pictures (headed by panelist Ira Deutchman), and Digiscreen have announced plans for Jackson Hole festival finalists to screen in four states at digital venues during the same week of the festival (September 22-27).
The IFP Market officially opened on Sunday night with a screening of James Cox's "Wonderland," a Lions Gate film about porn star John Holmes' connection to homicides in Los Angeles. The market awards ceremony and closing night will be held at Deep on Thursday night. Rosie Perez has been tapped as the celeb M.C. for that event, which will award $130,000 in cash and services. The No Borders sidebar will close with a screening of Jean Francois Pouilot's "Seducing Doctor Lewis" (La Grande Seduction) at the Sunshine Cinema tomorrow night.
In the Emerging Narrative, of the 18 works-in-progress, five filmmakers have been selected to screen their entire films: including Josh Apter ("Delivery Method"); Kim Roberts & Eli Despres ("Wilderness Survival for Girls"); Neal Miller ("Raising Ragg"); Sven Pape ("L.A. Twister"); and Benno Schoberth ("Shelter"). The five films are screening throughout this week at the Angelika.
In an announcement ahead of the Market opening, IFP/New York executive director Michelle Byrd noted that 25 percent of the projects at the script development stage at this year's market have come from women, while 25 percent of the short-subject directors are African-American. Byrd also noted a larger presence of producing and financing companies from overseas and Canada. Among those with reps in New York this week include Alliance Atlantis and Cinema Vault Releasing, Canadian documentary sales company Films Transit, German-based Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, U.K.-based Ingenious Media, SaskFilm & Video Development Corporation, UK Film Council, London-based Pandora Production, Paris-based Wild Bunch, Italian distributor Lady Film, London-based Redbus Pictures, Telefilm Canada, and Cologne-based Gemini Film and Pandora Film Production. The international broadcasters from outside of the United States include ARTE France, BBC Storyville (U.K.), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 4-Television/Film Four (U.K.), CNN, The Finnish Broadcasting Company/YLE, Denmark's TV2 Documentaries, and Germany's ZDF.
Market attendees partied around town on Monday night, with folks from the Los Angeles Film Festival gathering at Bright Bar on 10th Avenue after the Gotham Awards and the gang from ContentFilm gathering in Chelsea after the awards, while Kodak, indieWIRE, and The New York State Governor's Office for Film and Television hosted a party at The Screening Room in downtown Manhattan as groups converged to celebrate into the night.