The 2012 American Film Market gets underway tomorrow with more than 120 new buying companies and a 10% increase in buyers, organizers say. The 2,000-plus projects set for the annual Santa Monica confab October 31-November 7 will be on offer from the roughly 350 companies that are exhibiting. Hurricane Sandy‘s impact on attendance is still unclear: AFM said Monday that arrivals for about 15 companies may be delayed due to the storm. “It’s primarily New York-based companies or those connecting through New York from Europe,” an AFM spokesperson said. More than 440 motion pictures — including 82 world premieres and 327 market premieres from more than 70 countries — are scheduled to screen over the eight days. Films premiering include ones starring Annette Bening, Helena Bonham Carter, Chow Yun-Fat, Jennifer Connelly, Roman Coppola, Elle Fanning, James Franco, Christina Hendricks, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Hudson, Julianne Moore, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alexander Skarsgård, Juno Temple, Kristen Wiig and Elijah Wood.

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While the deals go on, there are several panels and industry conversations happening as well. With Thursday being touted as Hong Kong Day at AFM, the November 1st afternoon seminar on co-production in the city as a gateway to China is of particular interest. Zhou Tiedong, the President of China Film Promotion International, is among those on the panel. Friday afternoon will see a BAFTA-sponsored conversation with Sacha Gervasi, the director of the upcoming Hitchcock with Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johannson at the AFM Studio in the Santa Monica Lowes. Also on Friday, in the morning, a panel on Current Issues in Film Finance has an interesting mix. Exclusive Media CEO Nigel Sinclair, Open Road’s CEO Tom Ortenberg and WME’s head of Global Finance and Distribution Group Graham Taylor aim to give indie filmmakers a sense of trends in the independent world when it comes to money and how to get financing.