The Independent Film & Television Alliance, which runs the American Film Market, had been flirting with moving the annual market downtown to the L.A. Live complex, and only reluctantly confirmed in September that it was staying in Santa Monica through 2012. But now it has gotten the upgrades it wanted from the city and has inked a deal that will keep the confab at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel — its home since 1991 — through 2017. Events also will be held at Le Merigot Beach Hotel and the Fairmont Miramar.
AFM officials cited an upcoming AMC cinema complex with 12 screens; a renovated and expanded Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which will provide a venue for red-carpet premieres; additional hotel rooms in the downtown area; a light-rail stop at Fourth Street and Colorado Boulevard set to open in 2015; and a seven-acre park on Ocean Avenue opposite the Loews scheduled to be completed in 2013, along with a mixed-use complex featuring restaurants and retail. “Our stated goal from the start of this process has been to provide the best environment, resources and value for the world’s buyers and sellers and, after long and careful deliberations, we believe remaining in Santa Monica will achieve all of those goals,” IFTA president and CEO Jean Prewitt said. Santa Monica officials say that AFM will contribute more than $100 … Read More »
Some of Washington’s most powerful lobby groups ramped up their fight today over the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was just introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Independent Film & Television Alliance echoed points that MPAA chief Chris Dodd made in a speech today — that the bill empowering the government to block overseas websites that traffic in copyrighted content would protect jobs. It’s needed to stop “drastic damage to the legitimate marketplace … measured both in films that cannot be produced and in lost returns on investment in films that have been,” IFTA CEO Jean Prewitt said. National Association of Theatre Owners CEO John Fithian adds that the legislation “is an important step to protect the jobs of 160,000 movie theater employees and sustain one of the vital engines of the nation’s economic growth.” The plan also was supported by a collection of unions including the American Federation of Musicians, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Screen Actors Guild. If the bill doesn’t become law, they said in a joint statement, then “rogue sites will continue to siphon away wages and benefits from members of the creative community, greatly compromising our industry’s ability to foster creativity, provide opportunities, and ensure good jobs.”
But Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro warned that if Congress passes the bill — also known as the Protect IP Act — then “the notoriously litigious content industry could simply accuse a site that it is selling a product that could ‘enable or facilitate’ a copyright infringement, thereby allowing accusations to shut down sites vital to the Internet economy.” He says that “could lead to mass shutdowns of websites and Internet-enabled services.” The group plans to bring several Internet venture capitalists to Washington tomorrow to make that case. Read More »
Two European sales companies — British based Hanway Films (the sales company of British producer Jeremy Thomas) and Paris-based Celluloid Dreams — are calling for Avi Lerner to step down as vice-chair of the Independent Film & Television Alliance. The problem stems from accusations that, at the same time he’s helping run the organization pledged to be the “voice and advocate for independents worldwide”, some companies which Lerner controls are apparently exploiting those same indie filmmakers by allegedly owing them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Lerner is co-chairman of Nu Image, which in 2007 bought the U.S. distributor First Look which is being sued by around 20 other film companies. Hanway Films’ head of business affairs Richard Mansell says his firm is owed nearly $500,000 by First Look, and pledges to soon pursue Nu Image through the courts in Los Angeles. Celluloid Dreams has won a court case against First Look for over $720,000 still owing from the U.S. release of Quentin Tarantino-starrer Sukiyaki Western Django, but hasn’t seen a dime yet. CEO Hengameh Panahi, one of Europe’s most respected sales agents, explains: “You can’t exploit somebody’s film and then not pay people.” IFTA would not comment on what it says are legal matters involving its members. Hanway Films’ Mansell says: “How can he represent the interests of an organization which is meant to adjudicate on and penalize wrongdoing by distributors? It makes IFTA itself a joke. If the organization had any … Read More »
UPDATE: Lloyd Kaufman disputed my assessment that The Toxic Avenger doesn’t belong on the short list of the elite indie films of the 1980s. I’m letting him have his turn, though I can’t say he has changed my mind.
Your article impugning the integrity of the IFTA Board of Directors, suggesting that its choices of the 30 “Most Significant Independent Films” have been foisted upon it by me, its Chairman, is absurd and an insult to the entire Board.
Everyone on the 27-member IFTA Board of Directors voted by secret ballot and I had absolutely no influence on the outcome. In fact, there was no politicking involved at all. These are the Board’s choices and the board’s alone. It is ridiculous for you to state that a group that includes film icons like Roger Corman, Avi Lerner and Mark Damon would be led around by me!
IFTA, for whom I’ve had the honor of serving as chairman for the past three years, is recognizing the “Most Significant Independent Films” in terms of both art and commerce. Nowhere did IFTA say “Best” or “Top” independent films. In fact IFTA took great pains to avoid using those terms.
Regarding you dismissal of The Toxic Avenger, I really wonder if you have seen the film. In every respect, The Toxic Avenger is worthy of receiving an honorable mention as one the “Most Significant Independent Films” of the past 30 … Read More »