OCEAN AVE — The American Film Market, one of the world’s largest gatherings of independent filmmakers and producers, opens today at the Santa Monica Loews with more than 90 new buyers and a total of 415 films to be screened during the eight-day event.

Buyers from China are up more than 50 percent and from Germany up more than 30 percent, with buyers from Mongolia and Cambodia attending the market for the first time, said AFM Managing Director Jonathan Wolf.

Of the films to be screened for 8,000-plus industry leaders, 69 are world premieres, 310 are market premieres and 29 will be presented in 3D. Every two hours, 29 films will be shown, as exhibitors from 35 countries hold a total of more than 700 screenings across Santa Monica.

“With buyers up and screenings on par with last year, we expect a very healthy and active market,” Wolf said. “And our expanded five-day Conference Series is nearly full with more than 700 attending each day.”

Loews Santa Monica Hotel is the headquarters for AFM. Hotel rooms have been emptied to serve as mini-conference rooms complete with audio-visual equipment and office furniture. It is estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 people will flow through the hotel each day of AFM.

AFM exhibitors continually present the most acclaimed films of the coming year; notably, 18 of the past 31 “Best Picture” Academy Award winners were sold at the AFM. This year’s market showcases, among others, Adrien Brody, Steve Buscemi, Jackie Chan, Glenn Close, Ice Cube, Catherine Keener, Keira Knightley and Rachel Weisz.

Unlike a film festival, the AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed, Wolf said. In just eight days, more than $800 million in deals will be sealed — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production.

The AFM has been held at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for the past 20 years, but that contract is up after the November 2012 event.

The Independent Film & Television Alliance, which produces the market, is contemplating a move to downtown Los Angeles. Discussions with Loews are continuing.

A possible move has some local business leaders on edge, concerned that losing a significant event like AFM would hurt local businesses that rely on the influx of cash during the fall, when tourism tends to slow down. During the market, which is scheduled from Nov. 2- 9 at Loews, theaters are packed daily as are many hotels, restaurants and retail stores.

The market is expected to generate roughly $16 million in direct spending and about $700,000 worth of tax revenue.

Several restaurants and retail outlets are offering discounts to AFM participants. For a list, go to www.santamonica.com/visitors/what-to-do/afm/ or call the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau at (310) 319-6263.

For more information on AFM, go to www.americanfilmmarket.com.

news@www.smdp.com

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