The Toronto and New York Film Festivals might be the place for film buffs, but for aspiring filmmakers, the Independent Feature Film Market in New York (September 15-22) was the year’s must-attend event. Sponsored by the Independent Feature Project, the annual market provides an outlet for filmmakers to screen their finished films, works-in-progress and sample reels for an industry audience. This year’s documentary list increased to a record 128, the highest number in the IFFM’s 22-year history.
With so many titles, however, buyers have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff. ‘There’s not a lot of high quality product, just a few films,’ says Arthur Skopinsky, the President of Monarch Films, an international distributor. While he didn’t sign any deals at the market, some of his favorites include Blind Spot: Murder by Women, a feature-length crime doc about six female murderers; Bombay Eunuch, a rough-cut filmed in India’s mega city; and Cinemania, a work-in-progress about obsessive filmgoers.
Cinema Guild’s Gary Crowdus, who hasn’t missed an IFFM since the market began, thinks this year’s crop was ‘particularly good.’ He looks for docs with strong potential in non-theatrical and educational markets. ‘We’ll be pursuing a number of them, but I’m sure there will be heavy competition,’ he says. Crowdus was especially impressed by such entries as Marcus Garvey: Look For Me in the Whirlwind, a biography of the black leader; and Losin’ It, about people around the world with physical disabilities.
Two other finished films that topped several favorite lists were Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story, about the daughter of socialites who became an Andy Warhol superstar; and Southern Comfort about a love story between two transsexuals. ‘A lot of U.S. domestic content isn’t easily exportable for international markets,’ says Jan Rofekamp of Montreal based distrib Films Transit, ‘but those two films stand out.’
Many filmmakers who have attended the IFFM over the years find that the organization is steadily improving. New York-based filmmaker Doug Block, who operates the documentary website d-word.com, praised the quality of this year’s panel discussions, which gave filmmakers the chance to hear from cable buyers, foundation officers, and their fellow producers.