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The AFMA in turmoil.

The AFMA in Turmoil

The American Film Marketing Association, currently headed by William Shields as chairman, and Jonas Rosenfield as president, is in for a trying time, faced with internal controversy over the decision to stage two annual markets in Los Angeles, and a rift over the candidacy of Michael F. Goldman to become the new AFM chairman.

Both issues go to the heart of the AFMA leadership, under whose aegis membership has grown to 110. Its activities have broadened both nationally and internationally, and its prestige has risen to the point where it is recognized as a legitimate "rival" to the Motion Picture Association of America, with a budget to match.

The AFM membership sounds generally pleased with the way the Association has developed, and the services it offers, though some wonder whether current tough times warrant the AFMA budget.

Yet, all is not well in indie land. An outgrowth of that is the creation of the Owners Only Club. The Club, whose current membership of 47 top executives is restricted to the heads of companies, is concerned with the larger policy issues facing the independents, and has even discussed the establishment of its own bank.

The October AFM, in its first ever session this year, is controversial, largely because it was quite deliberately slotted into the dates of Italy's MIFED, partly to dramatize the Americans' dissatisfaction with the way MIFED was run.

MIFED, in response, has "reformed" and claims to have met the U.S. complaints on every level.

Both markets report that registration is lively, which is explained by the fact that the majority of American sales agents and distributors have opted for a dual presence in both Milan and Los Angeles.

The original decision to slot the AFM in October caused much anger among AFMA members resident in Europe, particularly the British. But it has become clear that the vast majority of AFMers have decided to focus on the Los Angeles event, and send their seconds to Milan. Others will just maintain information booths at MIFED, arguing that the costs of attending both markets in force are prohibitive.

But, if the competing markets have frayed tempers, the question of AFMA's future leadership is shaping into an equally bitter fight.

Goldman has sent a letter to the AFMA members, announcing his candidacy as chairman of the organization and stating - pointedly - that the priorities of the AFMA "need to be reviewed on a periodic basis."

Goldman, now chief of Quixote Productions (in which he is partnered with Norman Katz) argued that the AFMA should put members' interests before its own.

The organization, he wrote, "must take into account the specific needs of the membership. While we are a diverse group, the requirements of the majority must be reflected, and the paid and unpaid executives of the Association should place these needs before the needs of the Association itself."

Goldman's round-robin letter stated that he preferred a single American Film Market each year and he also voiced his belief that all unpaid AFMA officers "should be limited to five consecutive one-year terms."

Goldman also felt that AFMA budgets should be reviewed periodically in the light of "the overall economic state of the Association."

Several AFMA members recall that Goldman, when he was AFMA chairman once before, ran the Association on a very personal basis and expanded it to include many suppliers. "It's due to him that our costs shot up so much," said one AFMA director.

"How do we know he wouldn't do all these things again if he became chairman?" commented another. "I don't think he did the organization a favor with his expansionist policies."

By way of contrast, many of the Association leaders interviewed had praise for Shields' chairmanship and positively noted his close working coordination with the energetic Rosenfield.
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Title Annotation:American Film Marketing Association
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:MIFED, AFM in a no-win situation.
Next Article:MIFED not yet muffed.

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