Organizers of the New Zealand International Film Festival have stated that the event, running July 24 – August 2, will move online due to the ongoing pandemic. The country has been one of the most successful combating the virus, and has begun a gradual exit from its lockdown, but restrictions will remain in place for some time yet. As a result, the fest said it was unable to present its 2020 edition as originally planned. The event will showcase a program of world and New Zealand premieres for audiences at home, it said, and is upgrading its existing VOD platform to cater to demand. The full program will be unveiled on June 22.
The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) and ScreenSkills are bringing back their Unconscious Bias Training program for a new online session, offering it for free to all UK industry professionals during the COVID-19 crisis. The initiative, first trialled in 2018, was initially designed to help BIFA voters recognize and mitigate against potential subliminal biases, including genre, budget, commerciality, reputation or the gender and race of key creatives or lead actors. Training this year will be held on Zoom during the pandemic, taking place roughly once a month with 25 participants per session. The training will be facilitated by Challenge Consultancy which has developed and delivered the training on behalf of BIFA for the past two years.
NENT Studios UK, formerly DRG, has upped Richard Halliwell to CEO of the overall entity, replacing Jakob Mejlhede Andersen who departed in February. Halliwell was previously CEO of DRG and MD of Nent Studios UK. The wider NENT Group, which comprises 32 companies in 17 countries, is headquartered in Stockholm and works across the development, funding, production and distribution of scripted and unscripted content.
Disney is offering free access to Hotstar, the streamer which is the biggest VOD in India, to South Asian migrant workers in Singapore. The studio said it would give access to the service, which has 85,000 hours of content across film, TV and sports, free of charge until July 21 during the coronavirus crisis. It is working with the Singapore government and migrant workers outreach groups to inform workers about this initiative at a grassroots level. The platform, which has seen north of 400 million downloads in India, will open up subs to all Singapore residents at a later date.
The South Australian Film Corporation has named VFX specialist Mark Thorley as Chief Operating Officer. The former Managing Director of Mill Film Adelaide has also had posts at Lucasfilm, Singapore, and Animal Logic in both Los Angeles and Sydney. His credits include Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: Rogue One, and Jurassic World. The Australian company has also permanently appointed Beth Neate as its Head of Production and Development, after five months in an acting position in the role.