The American Film Market, a grand scale film industry showcase and networking event for independent films, returns to Santa Monica this year expecting record attendance. Free screenings of some films featured at the event will be offered for Santa Monica residents.

Celebrating its 25th year, the American Film Market (AFM), is scheduled for November 3rd through 10th, at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica. AFM is open only to film industry professionals, but public screenings of independent films for Santa Monica residents will take place at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the AMC Theater, 1310 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica.

The yearly AFM already occurred Friday, February 25th through Thursday, March 3rd, this year, but organizers decided to move the event to November from now on, resulting in the rare scenario that the AFM will occur twice in the same year. The AFM will coincide with the inauguration of Santa Monica’s new Visitors Incentive Program (VIP), according to Misti Kerns, Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) president & CEO.

Each year, the event significantly increases traffic to local businesses (not to mention on local streets). This year, the Convention & Visitors Bureau will provide holders of the free VIP card with discounts and rewards at about 160 participating local hotels, shops, restaurants and attractions.

Kerns estimates that 8,000 attendees of the AFM will receive the card when they pick up their show badges.

“Santa Monica is truly the home of the American Film Market,” says Jonathan Wolf, managing director of AFM. “The Visitor Incentive Program is a terrific way of welcoming our attendees and making them feel welcome at their home away from home.”

The AFM, a trade event with global reach, draws about 7,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries annually to Santa Monica, according to event organizers. Attendees include leaders in motion picture and television production and distribution, directors, writers, bankers and festival directors who close more than $500 million in motion picture and television production and distribution deals.

Earlier this year the AFM and Santa Monica signed an agreement that guarantees the film market’s presence in the city through 2008.

Wolf says Santa Monica has the upscale ambiance the market wants, as well as the beach, theaters, shopping, and restaurants all within walking distance.

Kerns says the AFM brings approximately $15 million to $17 million into Santa Monica each year and with two markets this year, a substantial economic boost of approximately $32 million will be realized from the American Film Market alone.

The AFM also offers Santa Monica residents the opportunity to view over 30 premiere screenings free of charge from November 3rd through 9th.

“Screenings of films at the market are typically limited to attendees such as acquisition and distribution executives,” says Jennifer Garnick, AFM media contact at The Lippin Group.

She says the AFM works with distributors to open some of the screenings to Santa Monica residents.

“Most films haven’t been released yet so it’s an extraordinary opportunity to see world and U.S. premieres in an industry environment,” she says.

Some films available for viewing are the comedy Funny Valentine, with Anthony Michael Hall and Marlo Marron, the documentary Imelda, about Imelda R. Marcos, and the thriller Out of Season, starring Dennis Hopper and Gina Gershon.

Garnick says residents must register on-line at and click on the “premiere screenings” tab. Once registered, directions are provided for obtaining a badge. Each resident must register separately and the badge is good for all screenings listed.

Held exclusively at the AMC on the Third Street Promenade, screening times and titles are on the Web site along with a synopsis of each film. Organizers suggest arriving at least 30 minutes prior to screening times.

The AFM’s change in its yearly show from February to November goes hand-in-hand with its new collaboration with the American Film Institute’s film festival, AFI Fest, held November 4th through 14th in the Los Angeles area.

Organizers believe unifying the market and festival will increase attendance for both groups and say 38 of the films represented at the AFM are also official selections at AFI Fest.

The AFM is also celebrating a record 355 exhibitors this year and has sold out exhibition space at both the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and Le Merigot Hotel, where exhibition space was added to accommodate the overflow from the Loews.

“We are thrilled to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with significant increases across the board,” Wolf said. “This record-breaking market is a testament to the AFM’s value to the industry and the continued strength of the independent film business around the world.”

Information, (310) 446-1000.

Julie Kirst can be reached at: