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International Newswire: Beta, ZDF Talk High-End Series Partnership

Beta's high-voltage period crime series 'Babylon Berlin' screens at Mipcom

In today’s International Newswire, Beta and ZDF’s commercial arm mull a partnership for upscale scripted series; Golden Globe-nominated director Klaus Haro delves into the shady side of the art-world; and A+ E’s Edward Sabin headlines Mip Cancun, a Latin American TV event that’s growing in importance.

ZDF Enterprises, the commercial arm of German public broadcaster ZDF, is in talks with Munich-based Beta Film, one of the key players in Europe’s scripted TV finance and sales, to create a joint venture to develop, finance and produce high-end scripted drama for the international market.

Details of the alliance have yet to be announced. Its rationale, however, is clear. Unlike Sweden or other smaller European countries, Germany has one of the biggest TV markets in Europe. So there’s less pressure to produce for international than, say, in Scandinavia, whose Nordic Noir was part born out of the necessity to reach beyond domestic. But as free-to-air TV ad markets shows signs of plateauing in the best of cases, broadcasters are looking to drive into content production and distribution to take up the slack. Here, international markets come into play.

Beta and ZDFE have already partnered on high-profile one-off-series, such as the six-seg “The Same Sky.” ZDFE has already demonstrated its global aspirations, announcing at April’s Series Mania that it was teaming with Rene Bastian’s New York-based Belladonna Productions, producer of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games US” and “Genesis,” an English-language sci-fi series about a trans-human experiment. A formal alliance with Beta would take its ambitions one step further.

Beta’s Mipcom lineup is headlined by high-voltage period crime series “Babylon Berlin,” directed by Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten.

KLAUS HARO SHOOTS ART-WORLD DRAMA ‘THE DARK CHRIST’
Finnish director Klaus Haro, whose previous film was the Golden Globe-nominated “The Fencer,” starts the shoot of his seventh feature in Helsinki next week, the drama “The Dark Christ.” The project was presented at the Finnish Film Affair, an industry event for upcoming Finnish movies that wrapped Thursday, Alissa Simon writes from Helsinki.

The Finnish-Swedish co-production stars Heikki Nousianen, the lead from Haro’s poignant “Letters to Father Jacob,” as Olavi, an elderly art dealer who resists retirement. At an auction, Olavi discovers an underpriced painting that he attributes to a master artist. He decides to take a chance, wanting to prove himself to the art world and his family. He borrows all his grandson’s savings in order the leave the art scene as a winner. This is when everything starts to go terribly wrong.

Making Movies, Haro’s Finnish partner on “The Fencer,” is the lead producer and prize-winning lenser Tuomo Hutri is the cinematographer.

“The Fencer” is now in U.S. distribution through the California Film Institute, presenter of the annual Mill Valley Film Festival and DocLands Documentary Film Festival.

A + E’S NETWORKS’ EDWARD SABIN TO KEYNOTE AT EXPANDING MIP CANCUN
Edward Sabin, A+ E executive managing director, international, will deliver a keynote at this year’s Mip Cancun, which is putting into place further building blocks for expansion.

Traditionally a market for international companies to sell into Latin America, Mip Cancun has succeeded in attracting 125 top buyers from the region this year.

At 2017’s 4th event, which runs Nov. 15-17, the Latin American TV Market will, however, add a Co-Production Matchmaking Market, where leading players in the region will present their programming and production events. With Latin American TV players displaying a heightened international ambition, the event is one answer to a growth market’s needs.

SYRIA-SET DRAMA ‘INSYRIATED’ OPENS GENT
Philippe Van Leeuw’s “Insyriated,” about a Damascus family under siege in their apartment, will open the 44th Film Fest Gent, which runs Oct. 10-20. The Belgian event closes with Bert Scholiers’ comedy “Charlie and Hannah’s Grand Night Out,” about two women on a drunken night out in Antwerp.

Italian director Aurelio Grimaldi heads the competition jury, which includes Australian actress Greta Scacchi. The competition section consists of 12 films, including world premieres of Hungarian director Janos Szasz’s love triangle-crime drama “The Butcher, the Whore and the One-Eyed Man,” and Belgian-Kurdish filmmaker Sahim Omar Kalifa’s debut feature “Zagros,” about a man in Kurdistan whose wife is accused of infidelity and flees to Belgium.

Among the other competitors are Ferenc Torok’s “1945,” Joachim Trier’s “Thelma,” Jonas Carpignano’s “A Ciambra,” Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” Adrian Sitaru’s “The Fixer” and Mohammad Rasoulof’s “A Man of Integrity.” The full lineup can be found here.

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