By Bruce Edwin
The American Film Institute's annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers, AFI FEST features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations and tributes. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for both Short Films categories of the annual Academy Awards®, and AFI FEST is still the only film festival in the United States to hold the prestigious FIAPF accreditation, assuring a high standard of quality and reliability for the international film community. AFI FEST is Los Angeles' longest running international film festival and has been bringing the best in world cinema to the film capital of the world since its launch as FILMEX in 1971. The American Film Institute is a graduate level film school which teaches all areas of motion picture, and is one of the top ranked film schools in the world.
The American Film Market (AFM) is the market partner of AFI FEST. The association between the two events connects art and commerce, broadening the opportunities for all participants, and collectively represents the largest gathering in North America. The business of independent motion picture production and distribution reaches its peak every year at the AFM, when more than 8,000 industry leaders converge in Santa Monica for eight days of deal-making, screenings, premieres, networking, parties and conferences. Participants come from more than 70 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world's press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry. The AFM is produced by the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). Both events are attended by many stars.
AFM proved to be a great success this year. We spent the majority of our time at the more busy Leows location, going from floor to floor, networking, and also poolside talking business overlooking the palm trees and beautiful Pacific Ocean here in Santa Monica, California. Most vendors were very cordial and professional. Tons of print media were also present, where they kindly gave away their issues. In addition to my many new contacts, I left with a bag full of new magazines including The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, American Cinematographer, and others, which reminds one of the day when print was king. It's sad how they have mostly disappeared, but nice to see relevant issues of them at least once a year. Advice to the publication "le film francais," which looks like a good read, create a full English edition.
A number of countries were representing their lands for tax breaks on film shoot locations, and even one state in the U.S., West Virginia, whose representatives were very friendly. With runaway production formerly going mostly to Canada, and now a lot going off to London among other places, it would be nice to see the film capitol of the world- Hollywood, again become the new world leader in incentives for filmmakers throughout the world. As for now, with zero representation I saw at AFM this year- aside from a blurb in the U.S. guidebook, the State of California is doing little to promote or improve this. (Film L.A. at least were here). Hopefully with the states' new film czar, that will soon change.
Japan cinema was widely represented as always this year, with Japan's Jetro, as well as the group called Uni-Japan which consisted this year of a hall of various Japanese production companies. Most Japanese films I saw promoted ranged from horror, blood spattered young teenage girls in Catholic school girl outfits, video game influenced science fiction, and fetishy femme fatale leads. While many of the Japanese promoted films ranged from the exploitative to the tacky, there were exception's. Two here being the masterful John Woo and Ang Lee, two of Japan's most treasured global talents, and its third, the outstanding genre of its superior animation itself, aka manga and anime, which did not disappoint. Korea, Hong Kong, and China were also heavily represented, For more Asian Cinema, The 7th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards will be held on Thursday, December 12th, 2013 this year in Brisbane, Australia. UniFrance was also here, as well as individual companies from around the world including Russia and Italy, in addition to the usual American companies and a few new ones.
One thing that would make the dual fest better for future years, and you can remember that you read it here first, it to move the AFI Fest over to Santa Monica right next to AFM, and extend the whole event an extra week, or at least an extra few days. The two locations are simply too far away between Hollywood and Santa Monica to see everything, and patrons and vendors are missing out by having to choose between one event or the other. Aside from this, my only regret about AFM this year, was that I didn't pick up more of those free Belgium chocolates- amazing! Send America more of those, and we'll watch anything! Joking aside, The Netherlands have some great auteur's, along with naturally- the second greatest land for motion picture after Hollywood- France. Not to slight Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, or others; cinema is the universal language, and there is little more fun and exciting than seeing the world come together for ten days each year right here near our own backyard to do deals for the most powerful form of art on the planet, the motion picture.
This story is ©2013, The Hollywood Sentinel.