You made it, it’s Friday. Thanks for reading International Insider. Tom Grater here with your weekly dose of major international headlines.
Edinburgh: TV’s New Diversity Dawn
Diversity urgency: The Edinburgh TV Festival’s advisory chair Patrick Holland told us last week that diversity would be written through this year’s event like a stick of rock. He was not wrong. Nearly every session featured impassioned and impatient calls for change following the Black Lives Matter movement, and my colleague Jake Kanter reports that there was a sense of urgency he has not seen in a decade of watching Edinburgh sessions.
A blistering MacTaggart: Setting the tone for the whole virtual event was British historian, producer and presenter David Olusoga, who delivered the centerpiece MacTaggart Lecture. It was a deeply personal address, in which Olusoga shared experiences of racism (one, shockingly, on the set of a reconstructed slave plantation in Jamaica), talked about a “lost generation” of Black program makers, and a concluded with a plea that a non-diverse industry shares power. Here’s our write-up. You can also watch the speech here, or read it here.
A powerful citation: Olusoga captured a deep mistrust of diversity initiatives following decades of false dawns. His message was clear, change must come now or never. He said: “30 years of failed initiatives and ineffective training schemes, and the constant hemorrhaging of BAME, talent has left another legacy. A lack of trust so deep that the announcements and initiatives of 2020 have been met, by many black and brown people in the industry, not with enthusiasm and excitement but with skepticism born of repeated disappointment. Proving that this time such skepticism is not warranted is among the biggest challenges.”
People emboldened: Olusoga was far from alone in channeling his dissatisfaction into purposeful prose on the Edinburgh platform. Noel Clarke revealed how he made the crew on his latest show more diverse by telling producers: “Just fix it.” Jameela Jamil was her typically articulate self as The Good Place star reflected being “denied the chance to fully spread my wings” until she moved from the UK to the U.S.
Programming pledges: There were also big commitments to Black programming made by a number of broadcasters. Channel 4 said it would host a Black takeover day next year to mark 12 months since the death of George Floyd. Among the lineup will be a reboot of The Big Breakfast, hosted by BAFTA-winning Mo Gilligan. ITV, meanwhile, announced a Black History Month, with shows presented by the likes of This Morning favorite Alison Hammond.
Best Of The Fest
Elba steps back in the ring: Among the more eye-catching commissions was a BBC Two series with Idris Elba. The Luther star will provide seven disadvantaged young people with lessons in discipline, focus, and determination by putting them through an experimental boxing school. Produced by Workerbee and Green Door, it’s titled Idris Elba’s Fight School. Story here.
Tony Hall’s valedictory speech: The outgoing BBC director general talked about the broadcaster’s role amid a “pandemic of misinformation.” The BBC’s “responsibility as the UK’s most trusted news provider has never been clearer and more important” in this environment, he said. Go deeper.
And finally: Edinburgh didn’t hold its usual awards this year, so Deadline has decided to hand out a few gongs for some the festival’s lighter moments.
- The award for Inevitable Zoom Moment goes to: ITV content chief Kevin Lygo, who had to interrupt his controller session to let his dog out of the room.
- The Modesty Prize is awarded to: ViacomCBS UK’s programming boss Ben Frow, who told his industry peers: “I am the most creative channel controller in this country.”
- The Roast Of The Week gong goes to: BBC comedy controller Shane Allen. In a vintage bit of Allen tomfoolery, as he turned on his camera to join the festival, he pretended to be on the phone and joked: “Sorry, it was Channel 4, they want to buy another old format. Ian Katz, he’s taking more treasures than the British Museum.”
It’s finally here: It has become the cinematic talking point of the summer – will Tenet be the savior of the big screen experience? – and Christopher Nolan’s time-bending epic is finally here.
Positive indicators: The film began its international-led roll-out this week, and early signs were promising, with the film taking $2M in Korean previews. The pic also opened in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Italy and Spain on Wednesday (August 26) but Warner Bros is being tight-lipped about box office numbers and has asked exhibitors not to spill the beans as it looks to control the narrative in this tricky, unprecedented situation. Our sources are predicting a $25M opening for its first five days, and some are saying $30M+. One analytics company also told us the film’s pre-sales were significantly outstripping previous Nolan pics.
Choppy waters: However, no one is taking the smoothness of the release for granted, as this pandemic continues to move the goalposts on an almost daily basis. Korea, so far one of the lockdown good news stories in terms of its rapid and effective response to the virus, is experiencing a significant second wave and is implementing stricter preventative measures, which could disrupt cinema takings. Several key European territories, notably France and Spain, are also facing increased lockdown measures.
Exhibitor’s view: Nancy Tartaglione spoke to Cineworld boss Mooky Greidinger to get his take on the current situation. The exec spoke about reopening its Regal cinemas in the U.S., and what he thinks the prospects for Tenet are. Read the interview here.
Roll Out The Red Carpet
The new reality: Venice Film Festival kicks off next Wednesday, and chatter among the international community is zoned in on how a major festival can operate in the pandemic era. Safe to say, with reduced screening capacity, distancing, and various other safety measures, it isn’t going to look like any other festival we’ve seen before.
Unearthing gems: It’s not the most eye-catching line-up of films in Venice’s history, but there’s always gold to be found. Cineastes could be in line for a treat with Hopper/Welles, a documentary capturing a meeting between the two famed film figures with never-before-seen footage. You can see a clip from the movie here. This week, Deadline also brought you first trailers for Majid Majidi’s Sun Children and Out Of Competition drama Mosquito State.
Show of support: The fest revealed today that eight artistic directors from major film festivals around the world will fly into Venice to take part in the opening night event, each taking to the stage to deliver a statement talking up the importance of such events in the cinema ecosystem. Read more.
Life on the Lido: Deadline will be boots on the ground in Venice, so check in regularly with us for insight into how a pandemic era festival looks and feels.
On the horizon: It might be six months away, but the Berlinale is already unveiling plans for its 2021 edition, including making its acting awards gender neutral.
Long-lasting impact: The world is going to be dealing with the impact of the coronavirus for many years to come, and governments are game-planning for ways to stimulate their economies and save embattled businesses. One of many hard-hit sectors is culture, which has been financially devastated by months of closures and cancellations.
France’s €2BN package: In France, the government outlined its €2BN plan to save the cultural sector. It’s part of an overall €100BN stimulus package for the country’s economy, which will be unveiled in full on September 3. The country is looking to get business back on track and to kick-start the economy. During the announcement, French PM Jean Castex urged people to get back to the big screen: “I say to the French: Go to the cinema, go to the theater, you risk nothing.”
Best Of The Rest
The master: From Hero to Shanghai Knights and the IP Man series, Donnie Yen has firmly established himself as one of the biggest Chinese movie stars on the planet. He’s also crossed over into westerns films with roles in the likes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming Mulan. But how did he get there? Deadline caught up with Yen this week in the latest entry in our The Film That Lit My Fuse video series to find out. Watch the video.
Biohackers is back: After a successful global launch on August 20, Netflix has moved quickly to renew its original series Biohackers. The show is the streamer’s latest buzzy commission out of Germany, which has served up hits including Dark and How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) in recent years. Here’s our scoop.
After Parasite: Following an act such as Parasite and its Oscar glory was never going to be easy for anyone involved. Star actor Song Kang-ho is going to give it a go with Broker, which he will lead for Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, making his Korean cinema debut. Read our story.
BritBox original: Chernobyl star Jared Harris is leading the cast of The Beast Must Die, one of the first original productions from new streamer BritBox. Filming starts next week. Here’s our scoop.
Tequila time: Omar Chaparro is one of Mexico’s biggest stars, having led the mega-grossing local series No Manches Frida. We had the scoop this week on his latest lead role in Sony’s comedy Tequila Re-Pasado.
Sad news this week that Colin Levanthal, a key player in UK film’s famously successful period in the 1990s, had passed away at the age of 73. Deadline spoke to several of those close to the well-liked and highly respected executive to gather remembrances. Read our obituary.