There was no shortage of enthusiasm at the 23rd Independent Feature Project Market, held in New York from September 30 to October 1. Every day, filmmakers crowded the steps of the Angelika Film Center hoping to charm buyers and lure anyone with an ifp badge in to see their productions. Down the street in the Puck Building, seminars ranging from ‘Getting Theatrical Distribution for your Doc’ to ‘New Technologies for Filmmakers’ drew full crowds intent on getting the most from their panelists. Considering the proximity of the market to the tragedies of September 11, the chutzpah of the 2,000 delegates is a testament to the dedication of the indie film community.
The week began with panels relevant to factual filmmakers, but veteran producers were clearly not the target audience. ‘Financing your Doc’ lined up eight reps from funding bodies and foundations, but the first hour of the 90-minute seminar concentrated on what filmmakers should expect when they walk in the door, not what they can expect to have when they walk out of it. ‘Documentarians and their Subjects’ brought together an impressive panel, including St. Clair Bourne (Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks) and Maria Finitzo (5 Girls), that raised questions about the fine line between making a compelling film and exploiting its protagonists. But, ‘The Changing Face of Documentary Film’ devolved into a complaint that there are too few outlets for quality docs – a low point was hit when the moderator asked if docs were a business or a passion.
With smoke still rising from Ground Zero, it was natural that conversation came around to the impact of current events. Fittingly, the ifp arranged a forum titled ‘WTC Aftermath: Changing Times, Changing Stories’. The discussion ran long with attendees debating the role of the filmmaker, and sharing personal stories of loss and shock.