In today’s Global Bulletin, Sky Cinema’s “The Amazing Maurice” rounds out its voice cast; the BFI launches a U.S. streaming platform for British cinema and renews its Bursary Award partnership with IWC Schaffhausen; and the Göteborg Film Festival announces funding for films from four territories where freedom of speech and expression are seen as being under threat.
David Tennant (“Good Omens”), Ariyon Bakare (“His Dark Materials”) and Rob Brydon (“The Trip”) will join previously announced stars Emilia Clarke and Hugh Laurie in voicing characters for “The Amazing Maurice,” a feature-length animated adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s “Diskworld” book “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.” Julie Atherton (“Avenue Q”) and YouTuber Joe Sugg fill out the previously announced cast including David Thewlis, Himesh Patel, Gemma Arterton and Hugh Bonneville.
Set to launch on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW next year, “The Amazing Maurice” is co-produced by Sky, Ulysses Filmproduktion and Cantilever Media in partnership with Global Screen and animation studios Studio Rakete and Red Star Animation, as well as Narrativa, the independent production label founded by Pratchett in 2012.
“The Amazing Maurice” is the 28th book in Pratchett’s monumental “Diskworld” series and was the first aimed at kids. Riffing on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, it turns on a cat which teams with a group of speaking rats on an ambitious extermination con game. Worldwide the book has sold more than 90-million copies for publisher Doubleday.
The British Film Institute is launching BFI Player Classics, its own dedicated streaming service in the U.S. The curated platform will host a collection of prestigious hand-picked British films composing a bespoke catalog, distinct from its offer in the U.K. The platform will launch on May 14 and include more than 200 British films.
In addition to major titles available on multiple platforms in the U.S., BFI Player Classics will also host several titles in exclusivity, including Anthony Harvey’s “The Lion in Winter,” “I’m All Right Jack” from John Boulting, Leslie Norman’s 1958 “Dunkirk,” “Went the Day Well?” by Alberto Cavalcanti, among others.
BFI Player Classics in the U.S. will be available on a 7-day free trial, with a standard plan costing $5.99 per month available after.
The Göteborg Film Fund 2021 will open its application window on May 10, inviting filmmakers from four distinct parts of the world – Brazil, Kurdistan, Sudan and Ukraine – to submit their projects for consideration. In response to the financial difficulties facing cultural industries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Göteborg Film Festival is launching the international film fund to support the development, post-production and distribution of films and series deemed to have high artistic and democratic value, hailing from territories in which freedom of expression is seen to be under threat. According to the festival, the fund is meant to “contribute to a diversified media landscape, with increased artistic freedom and free speech.” Backed by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the €400,000 ($482,500) initiative was established as a one-year project with a goal of building a more permanent international film fund in the future.
The BFI and the IWC Schaffhausen have renewed their IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award in association with the BFI this year and narrowed the fund’s focus to better address issues of representation and inclusion. To that end, this year all films applying for the £50,000 ($69,500) Bursary Award must meet BFI’s diversity standards, a requirement for the majority of public film funding in the U.K.
This year’s winner will be announced at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival, running Oct. 6-17. The application window for interested projects is now open and runs until June 17.