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THE NO BORDERS MARKET AT THE IFP FILM FESTIVAL
by Loren Paul Caplin

What sets the Independent Feature Project (IFP) Film Festival apart from the zillion other festivals that have popped up faster than acne on an adolescent's face? The No Borders Market. Okay, okay, let me back up a bit. To be fair, the IFP Film Festival, which takes place six days every September, is also distinguished by being the biggest festival specializing in independent films in New York ground-zero City. With screenings at the Angelika Film Center in SoHo, the IFP Film Fest attracts a ton of black-jacket-wearing dudes and dudetts with a script or finished (or partially finished) film hoping to go to the next step: finishing funds, distribution or production financing. And being in New York helps, since it's still the home to a large segment of indie production companies and/or distribution entities, from The Good Machine to Miramax --- as well as to a healthy dose of private (Wall Street) dollars seeking to merge art and commerce for fun, fame and profit.

But, aside from being in NYC, a film festival is a film festival is a film festival --- except for the No Borders Market which, in the United States, is unique to the IFP festival. It functions as a sort of adjunct to the main body of the IFP festival, with separate social functions and separate meeting areas. In this year's festival, No Borders carried on its activities at the Tribeca Grand Hotel.

Patterning itself after the market at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, No Borders is a vehicle in which international professionals consider new work in development. Unlike other markets, No Borders is by design a collaborative venture bringing together producers affiliated with established funding bodies. Only projects (features and documentaries) that are in script and/or treatment form (as well as partial documentary footage) and come with partial financing in place are eligible for consideration. And only producers or directors who have been involved with previous feature length projects are allowed to apply. Colin Stanfield, Manager of the No Borders Market told me that "there are three major criteria for submitting a project: The producer must be experienced, some money must be in place (ideally about 30% of the budget) and the subject matter must be appropriate to an international market place."

It's called "No Borders" because the projects that are accepted, as well as the exposure for those projects, is international. Mr. Stanfield indicated that over half the projects selected are not American. "Through our solid relationship with our partners on the program, and through our own solicitation process, No Borders aspires to bring together a slate of projects each year which the IFP believes stand a fighting chance in the international arena," says IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd.

This is how it works: If you're an American who has a script, a producer with a track record and some capital committed --- you must first become a member of the IFP (which anyone is allowed to do simply by paying a membership fee) and then you can submit directly to the IFP selection team. Mr. Stanfield indicated that this year, of the 75 American submissions, 12 were accepted.

If you are not an American, the process is slightly different. You must submit your project to an official No Borders affiliate, who in turn selects those projects that it wants to submit to the IFP. This year those affiliates included: Atelier du Cinema Europeen/ACE, CineMart, Film Council, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Telefilm Canada and Wallonie Bruxelles Images.

Once your project has been accepted, it appears in a book called No Borders Project Dossier that includes a log line, synopsis, summary, director's statement, bios, financial data, attachments and contact information. This book is then distributed to over 400 candidates whom IFP has identified as "potential buyers." These buyers receive the project dossier months in advance, then indicate to IFP which projects interest them. IFP then schedules one-on-one meetings between the project principals and the interested "potential buyers" during the No Borders Market.

Yuri Sivo, an American director who's project Wild Honey was accepted in last years No Borders Market said, "I was able to sit down with Sony Picture Classics, and USA Films and instead of having my telephone calls not returned, at least the people had to be there --- they selected me!"

The 35 total accepted projects this year included 12 documentary works-in-progress, 10 U.S. scripts, and 13 International scripts (12 of which are in English).

The following is a partial list of the "Potential Buyers" that were at this years No Borders Market: HBO, IFC, Manhattan Pictures, 7 Arts Releasing, Cinetic Media, Revolution Studios, Winstar, Sony Pictures Classics, Alliance Atlantis, Amerique Film, IAC Film Sales, Miramax, Studio Next, Time Mediaventriebs, Next Wave Films, Court TV, BBC StoryVille, Film Four LTD, TV2 Denmark, Celluloid Dreams, POV, Internatinal Film Financing, Canal +, USA Films, Content Films, ARTE GEIE, Fine Line, Film Transit, Film Council, ACE, Film Transit International, Pipeline Productions, and Open City.


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