Independent Film Distributors Gear Up for AFM as Film Market Opens Today

Independent film distributors, whose target audience primarily watches movies at home, are gearing up for the annual American Film Market (AFM), which starts its six-day run today (Oct. 31) at Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica (530 Pico Blvd.).

Andreas Olavarria, president and CEO of Level 33 Entertainment, said he’s “looking to meet with sales agents and discover some good feature films for our 2024 slate of theatrical and on-demand releases. We are open to content in all genres, but typically look for movies with a strong hook and known cast/elements. We also are selling several wonderful feature films from festivals like Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca at the market this year.

Olavarria said he’s attended AFM for more than a decade “and bought many films over the years. We acquired the movie Simmer from Sublimity Entertainment, and it went on to air on HBO and Max after a successful VOD and DVD release. Deadly Cuts is a film we acquired from Myriad Picture at AFM, and it is currently on Showtime and Paramount+. We were approached last year by the director of the award-winning film Waikiki, which will be released in select theaters in November and on demand beginning in December.”

Ed Seaman

Ed Seaman, CEO of MVD Entertainment Group, a family-run business that has been releasing music and film to home viewers since 1986, also will be at AFM 2023.

“It is a great opportunity to spend face-to-face time with clients and customers, to have some time to be cerebral and creative with our trade partners,” Seaman said. “We are not so much looking to buy films here but strengthen our relationships, and build new ones. So often we think we know what our trade partners do until we have some unstructured time, and we find there are new ways we can help each other.”

Another indie who will be at AFM this year is Richard Wolff, CEO of Breaking Glass Pictures, which licenses about 30 titles a year and produces 10 films annually for worldwide distribution. “Yes, we are attending from the beginning to the last day,” Wolff said. “We’re looking for films of all genres – we’re hoping to secure about a dozen pictures.”

Wolff, too, is a longtime regular at AFM, “beginning when the market was in February. We always made great deals, as this is the last market of the year. I’m curious to see how the new venue fares – and the condition of the elevators!”

Bill Sondheim will also be at AFM this year. A veteran home entertainment executive who once was president of PolyGram Video when the company was approaching the ranks of the majors, he now runs Greenfield Media LLC, a content consulting company that helps content creators find distribution and financing for their films before they are made, helps producers develop and package films, and represents films already made for licensing deals.

“I am going to AFM and looking forward to a busy few days,” Sondheim said. “I have several films at various stages of development that I will be pitching to distributors. I also represent some distribution companies, and I will meet with program suppliers that might benefit from added distribution capabilities. This show allows me to meet with dozens of content companies in a pleasant and convenient meeting area.”

Bill Sondheim

Sondheim said he’s gone to AFM “for many years and always found it productive. Last year I sold two films as a producer that started with dialogs at AFM. I also got a new representation deal due to meetings at last year’s AFM. Going to the show is a very productive time.

Mitch Mallon, the founder and CEO of Stadium Media, also is attending the show. “We attend to continually measure where the business is and possibly progressing to, as well as to meet and establish initial relationships with some of the newer suppliers from the United States and around the globe.”

Stadium Media is a global distribution company established in 2015 with a catalog of over 400 titles. Mallon and his team work directly with most digital and OTT platforms throughout North America “and the ever-expanding global digital landscape,” Mallon said.

“I have been attending AFM since our launch and have met, and developed relationships with, several suppliers that we still work with to this day in releasing digitally. AFM is where I began to formalize what Stadium Media might become.”

Absent from AFM this year is Michael Rosenberg of Film Movement. “We went last year, but decided to skip it this year,” he said. “We’re in regular contact with everyone and saw a bunch of sales agents in Venice, at TIFF, and in Karlovy Vary. Also, we have a lot of films in the pipeline already at this time.”

Another no-show is Dan Gurlitz, the founder of Soundview Media Partners, which specializes in independent films as a sales agent, represents films for non-theatrical exhibition licensing, and publishes The Sound View: Independent Film Digest, a monthly publication focused on the release of unique films, both classic and contemporary.

AFM, he said, “is not a show that caters to the kind of films Soundview Media Partners traditionally specializes in. More importantly, business has been extraordinarily strong. Leads and new clients come in mostly via word of mouth, so there’s little need to attend a show like this at this time.”

AFM 2023 has lined up 245 exhibitors, according to organizers. Film screenings will be held at theaters throughout Los Angeles, while the AFM’s conference series will take place at The Hilton Santa Monica Hotel (1707 4th St).   

The exhibitor list features independent film and TV production, sales and distribution companies as well as national pavilions from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. International trade organizations, film commissions and production service companies also have a significant presence as part of this year’s enhanced LocationEXPO exhibition, according to organizers. 

Registrants include buyers from more than 65 countries, according to organizers.  

LGBTQ+ Film ‘Nana’s Boys’ Heads to Digital Feb. 7, DVD Feb. 23

Breaking Glass Pictures has announced home release dates for Nana’s Boys, an LGBTQ+ film from director Ashton Pina (In the Paint, 2017).

The film will be released digitally, on demand, through Vudu, Prime Video, Google Play, iTunes/Apple TV, Vimeo, and local cable and satellite providers on Feb. 7, and on DVD on Feb. 28.

Nana’s Boy is the story of Amari, who, on the morning of his 30th birthday, struggles to make a decision on what’s next and questions his purpose in life. The day takes a rattling turn when an explosion cuts off utilities across New York City, forcing the city into a mandatory lockdown. Amari’s relationship with his partner Q is tested as the couple grapples with memories of the past that could shatter their plans altogether.

Starring David J. Cork (P-Valley) and Jared Wayne Gladly (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the film had its world premiere at the 2022 Inside Out Film Festival. It went on to play at Reeling 2022: The 40th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, Newfest, aGLIFF’s Prism LGBTQ+ Film Festival, and Out on Film Atlanta, and took home the Best Narrative Feature award at both the Black Alphabet Film Festival and the Baltimore International Black Film Festival.

 

Dark LGBTQ+ Comedy ‘Waking Up Dead’ Now Available for Home Audiences

Breaking Glass Pictures has released Waking Up Dead, an LGBTQ+ dark comedy from writer and director Terracino (Elliot Loves), to home audiences.

The film is available on DVD and through various digital platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, Vimeo, as well as cable and satellite providers.

Starring Gabriel Sousa and former adult actress Traci Lords, Waking Up Dead tells the story of washed-up actor Danny Maldonado, whose once-promising Hollywood career has flatlined.  When he receives a call to audition for the lead role in the most talked about new series in Hollywood, Danny vows to clean up his act.

Waking Up Dead had its World Premiere at Cinema Diverse / Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival, where it took home multiple awards, including Festival Favorite and Director’s Choice.

Breaking Glass Out With Festival Favorite ‘Give or Take’ Comedy

Breaking Glass Pictures this week has released Give or Take, an award-winning comedy from director Paul Riccio, to home audiences following a limited theatrical run in Los Angeles and New York.

The film is available on DVD and through digital retailers. 

Give or Take stars two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz alongside Jamie Effros, Joanne Tucker and “Saturday Night Live” alum Cheri Oteri. The film is a portrait of a son’s journey to understand and accept the complexities of his father.

Give or Take has been hailed by the Austin Chronicle as a “genial dramedy reminiscent of Zach Braff’s Garden State,” while Screen Queens calls it “a touching depiction of bereavement and contemplation of identity.”

Riccio in a press release said his film “is the definition of a comedy with heart. It’s a detailed and authentic narrative, affording real depth to the regret, resentment and misunderstanding that can take shape around a loved one’s death.”

Effos portrays Martin, a pragmatist who on the surface lives an acceptable life but still feels disconnected, especially from his father, Kenneth, a distant man Martin could never figure out. Their relationship got more complicated when Kenneth came out after his wife died. For the first time, he was able to live openly and honestly as a gay man. He found love with a younger man, his lawn guy, Ted (Butz), and they’d been living together in Ken’s house on Cape Cod ever since. When Kenneth dies, Martin goes home to sell the house while sharing it with Ted. Grieving, they circle each other, butt heads, and negotiate how to remember the different man they both loved, and the significance of what he left behind.

Give or Take premiered at the Woods Hole Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Feature, and went on to play numerous other festivals including the Monmouth Film Festival, where it won Best Narrative Feature; Out on Film Atlanta, winning two awards for Best Ensemble and Best Screenplay; the Port Townsend Film Festival, where it won Best Feature; Out at the Movies, where it was honored with Best Screenplay and the Audience Award for Best Feature; and FilmOut San Diego, where Butz took home Best Supporting Actor.

Breaking Glass Sets Dec. 7 DVD, Digital Release for Season 3 of ‘Woke’

Breaking Glass Pictures Dec. 7 will release season three of the French LGBTQ series “Woke” on DVD and various digital platforms.

Created by Sullivan Le Postec, Woke: Season 3 picks up when Thibaut (Eric Pucheu) saves a Chechen refugee from a nearly fatal trap, and in the process discovers a trial program for human rights protection that has provided shelter for several people in Europe.

Hicham (Mehdi Meskar), meanwhile, returns to his tower-block neighborhood in Saint Étienne after a relative is killed in a fight with the police. Both are in a race against time.

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Thibaut has to discover the mole inside the European institutions in order to save the lives of those protected by the European program, while Hicham has to reveal the truth about his cousin’s death and fight the fake news about the case, which is spreading and threatening their actions.

Woke: Season 3 will be available digitally on iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Vudu and Vimeo.

LGBTQ Drama ‘On the Fringe of the Wild’ Gets Home Release Dates on DVD, VOD

Breaking Glass Pictures has announced the Oct. 12 home release of On the Fringe of the Wild, an LGBTQ drama that marks the directorial debut from Emma Catalfamo.

The film will be available on DVD and VOD, the latter on such platforms as iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, DirecTV, and through various local cable and satellite providers.

Starring Harrison Browne, Cameron Stewart and Mikael Melo, On the Fringe of Wild serves as an early 21st century snapshot of queer adolescent boys on the verge of growing up into men and discovering their authentic selves. A “Romeo and Juliet” stylized romance between two teenage boys, the film is set in a small Ontario town, where love does not win, but the surviving players grow to accept themselves as members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The film had its world premiere at the OUTShine Miami Film Festival in April 2021, and saw its California premiere at FilmOut San Diego in September.

OTT.X Adds Six Members

OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association) has added six members: Breaking Glass Pictures, Here Media, MVD Entertainment Group, MyBundle.tv, Vizio and Xumo.

Founded in 2009 by industry veterans Rich Wolff and Richard Ross, along with Susan Helfrich, Breaking Glass Pictures is a film distribution and media company that focuses on releasing independent films, inclusive of all genres, from around the world. In addition to theatrical, DVD, digital, and VOD releases in North America, Breaking Glass functions as an international sales agent. With an average release slate of 45 to 50 titles a year, and a catalog of more than 400 titles, Breaking Glass also represents other studio’s catalogs for platform placement as aggregators.

Here Media operates media brands serving the LGBT market across the print, television, digital, social media, tablet, events and mobile.

MVD offers a catalog of audio and visual digital rights and has direct relationships with the major digital and VOD platforms.

MyBundle.TV guides consumers through the cord-cutting process by recommending customized bundles of streaming services based on a user’s set of circumstances. At the same time, MyBundle.TV provides OTT services a platform to reach their potential consumers.

Vizio is an American-based TV brand and sound bar company formed in 2002 offering among its products smart TVs.

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Xumo, an ad-supported streaming service, offers more than 190 digital channels of programming across 12 genres in 45 million U.S. households via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, web and streaming boxes.

Breaking Glass Sends ‘This Teacher’ Home in June

Breaking Glass Pictures has set a June 9 home release date for This Teacher, a 2018 drama from multi-award-winning director Mark Jackson (Without, War Story).

Starring Hafsia Herzi, Sarah Kazemy, and Lucy Walters, the film will be available on DVD and VOD.

This Teacher follows the story of a French Muslim woman (Herzi) who travels to New York City from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris to visit a friend. When the reunion proves disastrous, she steals her friend’s credit card and identity, then disappears to a remote cabin upstate.

Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. When she discovers she is not alone on the property, her sojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America.

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The film was selected as the closing night film at Slamdance, and was officially screened at the BendFIlm Festival, BFI London, and the LA Film Festival, where it received the U.S. Fiction Award.

‘A Simple Wedding’ Romcom Heads Home June 9

Indie film distributor Breaking Glass Pictures has announced the June 9 release of A Simple Wedding, a romantic comedy directed and written by Sara Zandieh, in conjunction with co-writer Stephanie Wu.

The 2019 film will be available on DVD only and stars Tara Grammy (The Persian Bachelorette), Christopher O’Shea (Madam Secretary), and Shohreh Agdashloo.

The film follows Iranian-American Nousha, a young attorney who has a great job, supportive friends, and a comfortable life but has a habit of sabotaging her relationships.

This causes her parents to grow frustrated as they hope she can soon host the perfect Persian wedding. Eventually Nousha meets Alex, a bisexual artist, activist, and DJ who she falls fast for. Her parents discover they are living together before marriage, and chaos unfolds as they prepare for a wedding that is anything but simple.

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A Simple Wedding grossed $21,794 in the opening weekend and $54,415 in the worldwide box office.

Breaking Glass Sets Home Release Dates for Israeli LGBTQ Drama ’15 Years’

Breaking Glass Pictures has announced the April 28 release to home viewing audiences of 15 Years, the Israeli LGBTQ coming-of-age drama from writer and director Yuval Hadadi.

The film will be available on both DVD and video-on-demand (VOD.

15 Years follows the story of Yoav, a successful architect who has everything he’s ever wanted: Dan, his lover of 15 years and a younger lawyer who adores him, and his sister Alma, who is like a mother and a sister to him.

When Alma announces that she is pregnant, it ignites Dan’s desire to become a father himself. His parental urges have an opposite effect on Yoav, who is haunted by past demons. Yoav’s tight grasp on life begins to fall apart, leading him to self-destructive behavior that threatens to destroy his life with Dan, unravel his friendship with his sister, and cost him everything.

The film premiered at the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival, where it was the opening film. It went on to have its U.S. premier at the Lighthouse International Film Festival, and subsequently had additional screenings at OUTShine – Fort Lauderdale and NewFest, and Reeling 2019 — The 37th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, where it won the Jury Award for Best Feature Film.