A trio of global festival favorites — Pan Nalin‘s “Last Film Show,” Mostofa Sarwar Farooki‘s “No Land’s Man” and Gurvinder Singh‘s “Crescent Night” (“Adh Chanani Raat”) — will open the 11th edition of the BMO International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA), Toronto (Aug. 11-21). The festival is in-person at venues across the Greater Toronto area, featuring 120 features and shorts in 22 languages and some 40 masterclasses, workshops and special events.
Program highlights include “The Orphanage,” “Pedro,” “Once Upon A Time In Calcutta,” “Dug Dug,” “Palyad,” “Shoebox,” “No Land Beneath The Feet,” “Deep6,” “Gandhi & Company” and “Invisible Demons” and there are world premieres for “Range Road 290” and “Anatomy of a Warrior.” Guests of honor this year are “Halo” actor Shabana Azmi and eminent screenwriter, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar (“Silsila”) and well-known South Asian industry figures present at the festival include opening film directors Farooki and Singh, filmmakers Anup Singh (“The Song of Scorpions”) who also serves as festival ambassador, and Shahrbanoo Sadat (“Wolf and Sheep”) and actors Paoli Dam (“The Terrace”), Azmeri Haque Badhon (“Rehana”) and Nusrat Imrose Tisha (“Saturday Afternoon”).
Anup Singh said: “We return to the big screen at IFFSA, where boundless space of cinema once again allows us to expand our body and mind, and we might now as birds for so long in a cage unfold our unused wings to soar through the enchantments of our earth, and celebrate ourselves, our endurance and all the little gestures of mutual regard and caring that helped us live as a community even when we could not sit next to each other during the last two years of COVID in our lives.”
Meanwhile, the world premiere of “We Are Next of Kin” by Hans-Christian Schmid (“Home for the Weekend”) will open the 30th Filmfest Hamburg (Sept. 29-Oct. 9) in the presence of the director, actors and crew. It is the film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Johann Scheerer, who describes the kidnapping of his father Jan Philipp Reemtsma from his own perspective as a 13-year-old.
SHORT CUT TO SHORT FORM
Chinese video streamer iQiyi has struck an agreement to license content from Douyin, the Chinese twin of TikTok. Both Douyin and TikTok are owned by China’s Bytedance. iQiyi, which has previously focused largely on long-form video content, will leverage the Douyin content to expand its entry into the short-form sector. It says that it will edit and distribute the short form videos and cooperate in other ways. iQiyi had 101 million subscribers as of March 31, 2022, according to a public filing. Douyin is estimated to have over 700 million daily users.
Josie Mason Campbell, former head of entertainment and factual at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has been appointed by Fremantle Australia as its head of unscripted (content and development). She was at the ABC between 2017 and 2020, when she exited as part of a restructuring. Before that she was head of production and development at Foxtel. Fremantle intends to expand its unscripted and documentaries operations. Mason Campbell will be responsible for development, creative, production and partnerships with broadcasters.
Beyond Rights has struck first time representation relationships with four new producer partners for pre-sales. From U.S. outfit Lou Reda Productions, Beyond Rights has acquired “Eyewitness WWII: Invasion Italy” (2 x 60′) a mini-series created from color archival footage that will highlight the importance that battles in Italy and the Mediterranean played in the outcome of the war. From Canada’s White Pine Pictures, the Emmy and Sundance winning producers of “Shake Hands with the Devil,” Beyond Rights will represent feature documentary “The Con: Churchill and Roosevelt’s Secret War and the Birth of the Deep State” (1 x 90’/1 x 60′), co-produced with Beetz Brothers Film Productions and PMA Productions for ARTE and Canada’s Super Channel. It examines the story of British Security Coordination, which was built to create a network of 1000 agents to spread fake news and undermine pro-Nazi sympathisers to bring the U.S. into the war in support of Britain.
The partnership with Australia’s Ronde Media will see Beyond Rights take series “Aussie Truck Rehab” (6 x 60′), which follows trucking legend Jon Kelly and his crew as they buy, bling and then sell vintage road warriors across Australia. Produced in association with Whistling Wolf, it is commissioned by Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, and will air on Discovery in Australia and New Zealand in 2023. And, from New Zealand’s Magnetic Pictures, Beyond Rights has acquired “Wild Heroes” (9 x 30′), a wildlife conservation series for Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ, airing on Three and Three Now in 2022, which focuses on important specialist work undertaken at Auckland Zoo.