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NEW YORK While the narrative film acquisitions scene feels the pinch of oversaturation and lower box office, the IFP Market will kick off its 22nd edition with a new name and heightened sense of its value as a source for documentary acquisitions.

Formerly known as the Independent Feature Film Market, the Independent Feature Project's annual Gotham event unfolds Sept. 15-22 at the Angelika Film Center with its largest-ever offering of documentary works.

"It's a fact of the current situation in acquisitions that documentary work in the market (is more attractive) -- in terms of interest, investment or acquisition" market director Milton Tabbot tells Variety.

In addition to unspooling 128 docu projects -- including 32 features, 76 works-in-progress and 20 shorts -- the market will also host the HBO-sponsored Documentary Pitch Session and various Spotlight on Documentaries panels.

Reality on the rise

Historically, docus have done better in the IFP market than narrative features, which have tended to be too low-budget for mainstream viability but too conventional for the arthouse market. This has become especially significant in the past few years, says Tabbot, "as there's more interest in reality programming, more television outlets, more slots to fill."

As far as narrative films are concerned, industryites tend to agree the market's real value is as a forum for works-in-progress, giving filmmakers a chance to tailor future efforts to fit industry exigencies or to even obtain finishing funds.

The market has two yearly programs to this end: The large Works-in-Progress section, which includes 10 highlighted Rough Cuts selections screened in their entirety; and the No Borders program, which matches projects in any state of development with completion funds.

Funds for faves

"I think that what saved the (IFP market) from being a zoo was the No Borders project," says Open City Films co-head Jason Kliot, who with partner Joana Vicente reps Open City and its digital division Blow Up Films at the market.

"With No Borders you get the sense that there's been a real pruning process, so you're going to see projects that could have some interest to you," adds Kliot.

Agreeing that the availability of unfinished work provides much of the market's appeal, Peter Broderick, president of IFC digital wing Next Wave Films, calls it "a completely essential event."

"For us, it's a way we see a lot of films looking for support -- which is especially important now that we're financing digital films," says Broderick, who has attended for the last 10 years. "And for the filmmakers, with money in place they can put their energy into making their movies."

Some 2,500 are expected at this year's market -- which will also include video and script libraries, a new-media lounge, industry panels, the opening-night screening of Sony Pictures Classics' "Just Looking," the Gotham Awards and the Gordon Parks Independent Film Awards.

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Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 11, 2000
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