Francis Lee’s directorial debut God’s Own Country has won the Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature at the 71st Edinburgh International Film Festival. The Yorkshire-set tale of self-discovery and emotional-awakening debuted in Sundance, winning the Special Jury Award for Directing in the World Cinema Competition. In May, Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired all U.S. rights. Also in Edinburgh, Best Performance in a British Feature went to Emily Beecham for her role in Daphne, and Anne Reid for her roles in Kaleidoscope and Romans. Best International Feature was awarded to Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s Bulgarian pic Glory. Other prizes included Best Documentary for Chico Pereira’s Donkeyote and Best British Animation to Paloma Baeza’s Poles Apart.
The Fashion Hero is being added to Amazon Prime Video for streaming in the U.S., UK and Germany. The Canadian series and global fan-based social media movement from Beauty World Search is designed to celebrate diversity and change the perception of beauty. Participants from around the world compete before a panel of accomplished designers to feature as role models in their forthcoming international advertising campaigns. The eight-part Brooke Hogan-hosted series will debut on Amazon in the fall.
Frank Spotnitz’s Big Light Productions has made two key hires with Frances Flannery named Head of Development and Emily Feller hired as Executive Producer. The appointments are designed to enhance and expand the company’s drama slate which includes Man In The High Castle for Amazon, Ransom for CBS and Medici: Masters Of Florence for Rai and Netflix. Feller, who joins from Red, will exec produce the latter as well as new originals. She also previously worked at Hat Trick as Script Editor on Jed Mercurio’s Bodies; other credits include Emmerdale, Exile, Scott And Bailey and The Driver. Flannery comes to Big Light from Wall to Wall and previously worked at Kudos. Her credits include The Prisoner, Spotless and The Scandalous Lady W.
Expanding its global footprint, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is investing approximately $1B to increase its stake in Lazada Group from 51% to approximately 83%. The deal values Lazada at $3.15B. The company is the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, operating in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. With only 3% of the region’s total retail sales conducted online, Southeast Asia is tipped for massive growth.
Publicity and marketing agency Organic has opened a new office in Manchester. Organic North will work with the London outpost, covering UK and regional publicity campaigns, tours and junkets, film and arts festivals, media management, unit publicity and social media management. Organic’s business in the growing media destination will be led by Account Manager Chris Boyd. The firm’s recent film and television credits include Arrival, Churchill, Gifted, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Deepwater Horizon, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Moana, Narcos, Nocturnal Animals, Okja; Orange Is The New Black and Stranger Things.
Animation and VFX collective Axis Group has launched Axis Studios to bring together its three branches and locations across the UK. This will unite the creative output of Axis Animation, Flaunt Productions and axisVFX under one banner. The three brands will operate with a greater degree of collaboration, enabling Axis Studios to tackle a wider range of projects across all three locations in Glasgow, London and Bristol, and in all sectors of the entertainment industry. Current projects include VFX on Studiocanal and Aardman Animation’s Early Man. Other credits include Lost In Oz for Amazon Studios, Shaun The Sheep Movie for Aardman and Doctor Who for the BBC.
FremantleMedia International has upped Rebecca Dundon to Director of Scripted Acquisitions, and hired Anthony Patton as Content Acquisition Executive. In her new role, Dundon is tasked with reinforcing and driving FMI’s scripted content acquisition strategy throughout the UK, EMEA and Asia-Pacific with a look to invest in and acquire drama titles. She will also work closely with FremantleMedia’s global producers to identify, develop and finance international scripted dramas to be distributed by FMI, and negotiate deals for in-house producers. Dundon joined FMI in 2015 and previously worked at Shine International. Patton will assist in identifying projects and manage relationships with both internal and third-party producers. Prior to joining FMI, he was Scripted Acquisitions Coordinator at ITV Studio Global Entertainment.
Channel 4’s Alex Menzies is joining UK production outfit betty as Chief Creative Officer. The All3Media-owned factual producer betty’s credits include The Undateables, Tricks Of The Restaurant Trade, Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, The Autistic Gardener, Bear Grylls: Mission Survive, and Everest Rescue. Menzies was previously Deputy Head of Features at Channel 4 and has worked on such series as Married At First Sight, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Superfoods: The Real Story and The Shut-Ins. Prior to C4, he was at Channel 5. In May, All3Media acquired betty from its parent Discovery Communications.