We’ve got the keys to the weekend, Insider fans. Jesse Whittock here guiding you through the international film and TV stories you need to read to top off the working week.
Russell Brand Fallout
Serious allegations: Jake and Max headed to the RTS Cambridge Convention this week, a bi-annual confab bringing together the great-and-the-good of the British TV industry to ruminate and speculate over the future of the sector. But, as is so often the case, events got in the way. In the days leading up, Russell Brand was accused by four women of allegations ranging from rape to sexual assault via a bombshell joint investigation that has been nearly five years in the making from The Times, Sunday Times and Channel 4. The entertainment world was rocked and the BBC, Channel 4 and Big Brother producer Banijay all reacted by launching investigations into historic allegations, while Brand, a one-time man-of-the-moment, comedian and Hollywood star, was dropped by his agent and book publisher and postponed his live tour, along with seeing ads suspended on his 6.6M-subscriber YouTube channel. Another complaint emerged late Thursday after a woman told the BBC that Brand had exposed himself to her and then laughed about it minutes later on his BBC radio show in 2008. Brand denies all criminal wrongdoing and says all relationships were consensual. All our coverage of this latest scandal can be found here.
Speeches rewritten: While the media world came to terms with what appears to be another example of in-plain-sight behavior of the worst order, speeches from some of the biggest British broadcasting behemoths were hastily rewritten. Opening the conference, Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon, who chaired this year’s convention, said the allegations demonstrate that terrible treatment of women was “tolerated” in the British TV industry, while BBC DG Tim Davie said the issues are “not wholly historic.” Various others touched on the issue and constant chatter could be heard rumbling through the convention halls, although one person steering clear was comedian Katherine Ryan, whose after-dinner comedy set came just two days after Deadline revealed she had been referring to Brand when speaking on a podcast about a “predator” she had worked with on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle. Hat tip to Jake for that one. Perhaps the most impassioned broadside came from Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who harked back to her time as a seven-year-old dreaming of being on TV, an industry where “the sky is the limit for talent.” “It is incumbent on all of us to make sure this industry is synonymous with talent, opportunity and inclusivity, not the scandals of #MeToo,” she said at the end of day one.
Best of the rest: Speaking in a press huddle after her keynote, Frazer, whose speech was roundly praised by the execs Deadline chatted with later on, said she had already spoken to BBC and Channel 4 bosses about Brand. She remained tight-lipped on some of the other big issues of the day, however, such as the government’s review into the BBC license fee and the upcoming Media Bill, which seems to have been making its way through UK parliament since the dawn of time. Pondering life across the pond, Frazer also said the UK TV industry needs to be “in the best possible position to bounce back once the strikes are resolved,” around 24 hours before CAA co-chair Bryan Lourd declared Hollywood must “heal” after the strikes, or the industry could be destroyed. Elsewhere, James Corden talked a captivated audience through his time on The Late Late Show, Piers Morgan pontificated once again on vegan sausage rolls and ITV boss Carolyn McCall took a rare pot-shot at the Conservative government. All our RTS coverage is here.
International Oscar Race Hots Up
On your marks…: With no immediate resolution of the Hollywood strikes in sight, it’s not clear how this awards season is going to pan out. But one race continuing at its usual brisk pace is that for the Best International Feature Film at the 96th Academy Awards. The submission deadline falls on October 2 and entry announcements have been coming thick and fast in recent days. Just over 50 contenders have been publicly declared. Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front scooped the prize for Germany at the 95th awards, out of 92 eligible contenders. The country has submitted gritty social drama The Teacher’s Lounge by Ilker Çatak this year. Other buzzy submissions include Pawo Choyning Dorji’s The Monk And The Gun (Bhutan), Matteo Garrone’s Io Capitano (Italy), J.A. Bayona’s Society of the Snow (Spain), Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s About Dry Grasses (Turkey) and Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest (UK). A full round-up of the selections is here.
Unexpected Taste: As ever, there have been surprises and contested choices. There was consternation Thursday when France announced Tràn Anh Hùng’s The Taste of Things as its entry over Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or-winning hot favorite Anatomy of a Fall. Tràn Anh’s culinary romance, starring Juliette Binoche and Benoît Magimal, packs a visual punch but has not enjoyed the same critical acclaim and international buzz as Triet’s courtroom psychological thriller led by Sandra Hüller (see Breaking Baz below). U.S. distributor Neon was not deterred by the setback and immediately took to the social networks to signal it would be pushing Anatomy of a Fall for Best Picture, Director, Actress and Screenplay. Elsewhere, there has been pushback against Iran’s official entry The Night Guardian, which was announced just days after the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini – the spark for the Woman Life Freedom protests. The Iranian Independent Filmmakers Association decried the submission and called on the AMPAS to consider an alternative entry selected from Iranian films by exiled or underground directors that have made their mark on the festival circuit this year such as Locarno Golden Leopard winner Critical Zone or Karlovy Vary Special Jury Prize winner Empty Nets.
Borderline: Potential controversy is also brewing around Poland’s entry, which is due to be announced on Monday. Agnieszka Holland’s migrant crisis drama Green Border has been touted as a strong potential contender from the nation following its Venice Special Jury Prize and buzzy reception in Toronto but will likely be nixed as a candidate by the country’s government, which has come out strongly against the film. Mel sat down with the director this week for an eye-opening interview about the hate and potential violence she is facing as she promotes the film in her home country. Depressingly, she has been forced to take 24-hour protection after Poland’s hardline coalition reacted angrily to scenes featuring exhausted border guards and bewildered migrants. Find our constantly-updated Oscars coverage here.
Canada’s Digital News Fight
Into the Meta-verse: Around the world, debates are raging around what the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Google should be doing to help local news organizations and stop the rise of disinformation. Governments have been applying pressure for Meta and Google-owner Alphabet to begin paying for news content shared on their platforms, but that went spectacularly wrong in Canada last month. After being ordered to comply with the Online News Act, which forces digital giants to pay about 4% of their Canadian revenues for shared news, Facebook and Instagram simply blocked the content. The fact it happened in the middle of the worst wildfires in North American history didn’t help the optics and the tech giant came in for serious criticism. I sat down on Zoom with Catherine Tait (pictured), CEO of Canada’s public broadcaster CBC/Radio Canada, this week to discuss the situation. She didn’t pull punches, and predicted Meta and Alphabet would pull out of other countries in a similar fashion. With Facebook News winding down in Europe and legislation in the U.S. set to bring the issue to the fore south of the Canadian border, this is getting interesting.
From A-List To ‘Suspect X
Kapoor Khan gets gritty: Our Asia Editor Liz Shackleton sat down with Bollywood star Kareena Kapoor Khan (pictured) this week, as her Netflix movie Suspect X hit the streaming platform. This marks her first performance on a streamer, which has become a bigger and bigger deal in India over recent years. The gritty Sujoy Ghosh film is based on a Japanese novel — it really is a global world — and sees the glamorous Kapoor Khan in a new light: dressed down and without make-up, playing a mother living peacefully in a remote town until her abusive husband finds her, while her mathematician neighbor uses the power of logic to help her (sounds like he would make a decent Deadline reporter). Kapoor Khan notes how streaming has opened up new avenues in Indian cinema, saying: “Audiences are used to seeing me in typical Indian song-and-dance style movies. But with the changes in cinema and the emergence of OTT platforms, content has become so different, and so actors are exporing a lot more.” Read the fascinating interview in full here.
Anatomy Of A Filmmaker
Breaking Baz: Our intrepid International Editor-At-Large Baz Bamigboye has been all over the world in the past few months, but he has a special place in his heart for Telluride. It was at the indie fest in the Rockies where he saw Academy CEO Bill Kramer rushing over excitedly to speak with Palme d’Or winner Justine Triet and Sandra Hüller, Triet’s co-star in the uber-buzzy French feature Anatomy of a Fall. Baz followed up with Triet and Hüller on Zoom weeks after the summit and had one of his always entertaining, insightful chats, discussing the screenplay and plot, the pair’s working relationship and the trouble with creating “grown-up” movies. Go here for more, and since I’m writing about Baz at Telluride, it would be criminal of me not to link once again to his run-in with a curious (but terrifying) mountain bear.
🌶️ Hot One: RRR Director S.S. Rajamouli is working up a feature about the birth and rise of Indian cinema, Anthony D’Alessandro revealed Monday.
🌶️ Another One: Classic Kiwi novel Once Were Warriors is being adapted for TV, as Andreas revealed.
🌶️ Hot, hot, hot: In India, Reliance Entertainment and Mid-Day Infomedia teamed to produce real life-inspired content, as Liz exclusively reported.
🌊 Under the sea: Big Talk Studios is developing a debut TV thriller, Vulture, about underwater drug smuggling.
🏗️ Under construction: UK facility Leavesden will become the epicenter of DC Studios production by 2027.
🛑 Festival off: The American French Film Festival was cancelled in LA due to the labor strikes.
⛺ Fest in focus: Diana went deep-dive on San Sebastian’s talent breeding reputation.
🗝️ New owners: For famed anime house Studio Ghibli.
🤝 Done deal: Fledgling Euro group Vuelta bought Italy’s Indiana Production and France’s Pan.
📹 Casting: Vicky McClure was set as lead for Paramount+ UK drama Insomnia.
🛒 Shopped: Jack Thorne’s upcoming BBC drama Best Interests to Australia, France and Israel.
🚪 🚶🏻♂️ Another exit: UFA’s long-serving boss Nico Hofmann moved to chair, with Sascha Schwingel replacing him.
⚽ Goldenballs: Netflix doc series Beckham got a first-look trailer.
Max Goldbart and Melanie Goodfellow contributed to this week’s Insider.
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