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AFM-MIFED tiff splits indies in U.S., abroad; MPAA supports MIFED.

AFM-MIFED Tiff Splits Indies In U.S., Abroad; MPAA Supports MIFED

The international film sales reps stationed in New York and Los Angeles on the whole support the idea of a second American film market in the fall and even those who recognize the problems and the resultant friction say they'll go along with the October 21-27 market in Los Angeles.

Larry Garrett, v.p. of Republic Pictures in charge of international distribution, says he intends to honor the decision of the AFM members, which pits the second AFM market against MIFED Milan and has caused a lot of ill-feelings on the part of the Italians.

"We aren't anti-MIFED," Garrett insists. "We'll go to the AFM market in October and then see how it works out for the future."

When AFM voted last December to establish a second L.A. market in 1991, the dates conflicted head-on with MIFED, which subsequently switched its market to the Oct. 17-21 period.

The Italian press, industry and government reacted angrily to the AFM move, seeing an anti-Italian motive behind it.

The Americans, with remarkable unanimity, maintained that MIFED - for years - was badly and arrogantly run, that it abounded with organizational snafus, and that - in any case - it was ruinously expensive.

The Italians maintain that these are simply excuses to keep the Americans from Milan. MIFED director Tullio Galleno has promised to institute improvements in the way the market runs.

However, from the start, it became clear that while the American AFM members supported the idea of an October market, the Europeans, along with the Americans operating from Europe, were much more lukewarm. In fact, a number of them minced no words in voicing their continued support of the Milan market.

Further, in a somewhat unexpected move which reflects the increasing rivalry between the AFM and the Motion Picture Assn. of America, Jack Valenti, the MPAA president, has been quoted in support of MIFED, which he called "the most innovative market in the world."

So the way it stands now, the American independents seem lined up behind AFM while the Europeans appear to lean in support of MIFED, creating a situation in which the Europeans seem to confront the Americans, with the Italians stoking the fires of that rivalry.

AFM spokesmen continue to insist that the decision to establish an October market is in no way anti-Italian, and was motivated strictly by practical and commercial considerations.

Individual executives support that point-of-view. "Milan is simply too expensive," says Stan Wakefield of the Double Helix company in New York. "The hotel costs alone are insane, and MIFED has done nothing to help with that situation by getting the hotels to offer some special rates."

Wakefield, like many others, said he did not intend to travel to both the AFM and to MIFED.

The impression given at this stage is that the Europeans, including the British, will stick largely with MIFED, and the Americans will flock to AFM.

New York-based executives point out that for those doing business predominantly in Europe, Milan makes more sense than L.A., particularly if the MIFED administration institutes changes and improvements.

"I sell to the Europeans. What's the point of skipping Milan and going to AFM instead?" commented one London-based sales agent. "Who knows how many from Europe will turn up at the AFM?"

The impact of the majors' throwing their weight behind MIFED remains to be seen, though it makes sense to those who feel that Valenti and his studios are anxious not to offend the Italian government which, in any case, is restive over figures showing that some 84% of all pictures shown in the country last year came from the U.S.

There has already been talk of "quota" in Italy. In the wake of these statistics, Valenti is seen as not anxious to muddy the waters further and to get the Italians riled up about American moves opposing MIFED (for whatever reasons).

AFM and the MPAA seem to be going head-to-head on a number of points as AFM membership and influence rise steadily.

For instance, while the AFM is cooperating with European moves to establish an international Copyright Registry Center (in Austria), MPAA has refused to back the idea, and the U.S. Congress has not so far approved the international film copyright treaty drawn up by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The AFM-MIFED confrontation has brought into the open not only American dissatisfaction with the way MIFED is run, but has also high-lighted the AFM-MPAA rivalry and put the spotlight on the increasing assertiveness on the part of Europeans.

What's more, it underlines the feeling that there are now too many TV markets.

Since MIPCOM in Cannes, in early October, is a "must" market for just about everyone, it means that those attending MIFED will have to segue to Milan immediately. In the past, there was a ten-day gap between MIPCOM and MIFED.
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Title Annotation:American Film Market, Motion Picture Association of America
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Feb 1, 1991
Previous Article:Bigger & better event foreseen; Brits to skip L.A. Screenings.
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