May 29, 2024

The American Film Market kicks off Oct. 31 and runs through Nov. 5 in its new headquarters at the Le Meridien Delfina in Santa Monica. Industry screenings are set at theaters throughout the city and AFM’s conference series, the AFM Sessions, will take place at the Hilton Santa Monica Hotel. More than 245 companies and organizations are exhibiting at this year’s AFM, with national pavilions from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Thailand and the U.K. In all, buyers from more than 65 countries are registered at the film market.

Here are some of the buzziest titles at AFM 2023:

Alphas

Director: Liam O’Donnell

Producers: Pierre Morel, Renee Tab, Christopher Tuffin, Matthew Chausse, Drew Bailey

Key cast: Martin Henderson

Story is set in a quiet surfing community where killer whales are enlisted to fend off great white sharks after a series of attacks. When the alpha great white shark proves too powerful to stop, a local surfing legend and a retired orca trainer come together to unleash the most dangerous killer whale they have ever known to stop the shark and save their town.

Sales: XYZ Films (worldwide)

Beast of War

Director: Kiah Roache-Turner

Producers: Blake Northfield, Chris Brown

A band of soldiers stranded in the open ocean must face a heart-pounding battle for survival against the ultimate apex predator — a great white shark. CreatureNFX’s director Paul Trefry will create the practical creature effects from his studio in Australia.

Sales: Cornerstone

Greedy People

Director: Potsy Ponciroli

Producers: Zack Schiller, Dylan Sellers, Shannon Houchins, Chris Parker, David Boies, Kevin M. Brennan

Cast: Lily James, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Himesh Patel, Tim Blake Nelson, Uzo Aduba, Jim Gaffigan, Simon Rex, Nina Arianda, Joey Lauren Adams

When the eccentric residents of a small, picturesque island town are faced with a sensational murder and the discovery of a million dollars next to the body, a series of increasingly bad decisions upend the once-peaceful community.

International sales: Mister Smith Entertainment; U.S. sales: Verve Ventures

Late Night With the Devil (pictured above)

Directors: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Producers: Derek Dauchy, Mat Govoni, Steven Schneider, Roy Lee, Adam White, John Molloy

Key cast: David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Fayssal Bazzi, Ian Bliss, Ingrid Torelli, Rhys Auteri, Josh Quong Tart, Georgina Haig

It’s Oct. 31, 1977, and late-night talk-show host Jack Delroy, whose show is down in ratings, is desperate to turn his fortunes around. He plans a Halloween special like no other, unaware he is about to unleash evil into the living rooms of America. Winner, Best Screenplay Prize, Sitges Film Festival

Sales: AGC Intl. (international); Cinetic Media (U.S.); Umbrella Maslow Ahi (Australia/New Zealand)

Lone

Director: Josh Waller

Producers: Josh Waller, Alan Pao, Doris Pfardrescher

Key cast: Shogen

After losing his family, a Japanese Samurai and assassin finds himself stranded on a desolate island and is kidnapped by a tribe of cannibals. He soon escapes and enacts revenge on his captors and their leader.

Sales: Red Sea Media (international); Well Go USA (domestic)

Merv and the Miracles

Director: Christopher Makoto Yogi

Producers: Partizan, RTG Features

Feature-length documentary explores the legendary college basketball game between underdog Chaminade and No. 1 ranked Virginia in 1982.

Sales: RTG Features selling worldwide

Mountain Woman

Director: Takeshi Fukunaga

Key cast: Anna Yamada, Mirai Moriyama, Toko Miura, Masatoshi Nagase

When famine overruns a small Japanese village, the burden falls upon Rin, whose connection with the spirit and natural world allows her to rise amidst familial conflicts.


Producers: Eric Nyari, Harue Miyake, Mio Ietomi

Sales: EST N8

Novocaine

Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Key cast: Jack Quaid

Producers: FilmNation’s Infrared, Safehouse Pictures, Circle of Confusion

Born with the rare disorder CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain), Nathan Caine’s life is a testament to caution. His parents raised him indoors. He blends his food so he doesn’t chew off his own tongue — he even wears a timer to remind himself to use the bathroom every three hours. But when his bank is robbed and his new love taken hostage, he will turn his greatest liability — his inability to feel pain — into his greatest strength when he sets out to rescue her.

Sales: FilmNation Entertainment (international); CAA Media Finance, UTA Independent Film Group, FilmNation Entertainment (domestic)

The Process

Director: Tara Miele

Producers: Pioneer Pictures, HalleHolly, Julia Sandberg Hansson

Key cast: Halle Berry

When Kirsa and Peter, a seemingly happily married couple, attend the weekend seminar of Aiden, a renowned self-help guru, they are asked to examine their individual lives, careers and ultimately their marriage, but when Kirsa resists Aiden’s “process” and his cult of committed volunteers, and Peter buys in, their relationship and sanity are quickly put to the test.

Sales: FilmNation Entertainment (international); Verve Ventures and WME Independent (domestic)

This Time Next Year

Director: Nick Moore

Producers: Jiuliano Papadia, Herbert L. Kloiber, Erika Hossington 

Key cast: Sophie Cookson, Lucien Laviscount, Golda Rosheuvel, John Hannah, Monica Dolan, Mandip Gill 

Flung together at a New Year’s Eve party, Minnie (Cookson) and Quinn (Laviscount) quickly realize they share a connection- they were born on New Year’s Day of the same year, in the same London hospital, one minute apart. Minnie grew up convinced that this mysterious Quinn – born first – stole the name her mother planned for her, and with it all her luck, setting her on a path of misfortune. Horrified at the misunderstanding, Quinn is set on making amends. But is it Quinn or is it fate that is scheming to bring the two together? 

Sales: Protagonist Pictures

This Time

Director: Sebastien Tobler

Producer: Theresa Chiu

Key cast: Ken Kirby, Leila Perry

Two high school sweethearts unexpectedly reunite in Los Angeles 23 years after they were separated in Jakarta and must decide if they’re still in love.

Sales: EST N8

The Radleys

Director: Euros Lyn

Producers: Debbie Gray

Cast: Damian Lewis, Kelly Macdonald, Harry Baxendale, Bo Bragason, Sophia Di Martino

Supernatural black comedy is based on Matt Haig’s popular novel about a family of abstaining vampires. Promo debuting at AFM. Film will be released in the U.K. by Sky Cinema in 2024.

International sales: Cornerstone

Young Werther

Director: Jose Avelino Gilles Corbett Lourenco

Producer: Matt Code

Key cast: Douglas Booth, Alison Pill, Iris Apatow, Patrick J. Adams, Amrit Kaur

A contemporary adaptation of Goethe’s popular 18th century novel.

International sales: Mister Smith Entertainment; U.S. sales: CAA Media Finance

Whistle

Director: Corin Hardy

Producers: No Trace Camping, Wild Atlantic Pictures

Key cast: Dafne Keen, Sophie Nélisse, Sky Yang, Percy Hynes White, Nick Frost

A misfit group of high school students stumble upon a cursed object, an ancient Aztec Death Whistle. They discover that blowing the whistle and the terrifying sound it emits will summon their future deaths to hunt them down. As the body count rises, they investigate the origins of the deadly artifact in a desperate effort to stop the horrifying chain of events that they have set in motion.

Sales: Black Bear (international)

Wicker

Directors: Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson

Producers: Topic Studios, Tango, South of The River, Votiv, Yoki, Inc.

Key cast: Olivia Colman, Dev Patel

On the outskirts of a village by the sea, lives a Fisherwoman (Olivia Colman); smelly, single and perpetually ridiculed. One day, fed up with her stuffy, small-minded neighbors, she commissions herself a husband to be made from wicker (Dev Patel). In an otherwise conservative town, this unconventional romance sparks outrage, jealousy and chaos.

Sales: Black Bear (international)

William Tell

Director: Nick Hamm

Producers: Piers Tempest, Marie-Christine Jaeger-Firmenich

Key cast: Claes Bang, Connor Swindells, Ellie Bamber

Set in the 14th century, William Tell, a formerly peaceful hunter, finds himself forced to take action as his family and homeland come under threat from the oppressive Austrian king and his ruthless warlords.

Sales: Beta Cinema (international); WME Independent (North America)

World Breaker

Directed by: Brad Anderson

Producer: Martin Brennan

Earth’s extreme weather unearthed creatures bent on our destruction. A father hides his daughter on an island to keep her safe while he prepares her for survival and the battles to come. But when the world is about to break, no place is safe.

International sales: The Exchange (the producers retained the US sales rights)

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