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International TV Newswire: SVOD Summer, HBO Casts, Netflix Shoots in Africa

In this week’s International TV Newswire SVOD original content stakes a claim to screens large and small, HBO Latin America announces castings, Netflix gets to work in Africa, New Zealand sci-fi heads to Europe and Nordic countries back student projects.

SVODs Dominate July’s Most Anticipated Series Lists

Forget the book on the beach, SVOD platforms are banking that viewers will prefer tablets, smart TVs and laptops in air-conditioned living rooms this summer. According to the popular app TV Time, a global social media platform which tracks viewer trends based on user participation, the three most anticipated series returning this July are Netflix Originals – “Stranger Things,” “Money Heist” and “Orange is the New Black” – with the fourth coming from Hulu – “Veronica Mars.” The USA Network’s “Suits” was the only broadcast series to crack the top five returning series list.

Amazon Prime Video tops the New Shows list with comic-based anti-superhero series “The Boys.” Two Japanese anime series, “Dr. Stone” from TV Tokyo and “Fire Force” from MBS, made the cut, and the USA Network shows up again with its upcoming political drama “Pearson.” The list is rounded-out by another comicbook series, Epix’s “Pennyworth” from DC comics, the serialized origin story of Bruce Wayne’s indispensable butler Alfred Pennyworth, a British SAS agent employed by Batman’s father in the ‘60s.

HBO Announces Cast on ‘Entre Hombres,’ A Series To Track

Gabriel “El Puma” Goity, Nicolás Furtado, Diego Velázquez, Diego Cremonessi and Claudio Rissi will star in “Entre Hombres,” a four-part minis-series from HBO Latin America and Pol-ka Producciones.

Their names might not mean that much on an international scale. But this is certainly a series to track. Shooting in Buenos Aires from this week, it’s the first solo sortie of film turned drama series director Pablo Fendrik whose “The Bronze Garden,” another HBO-Pol-Ka production which he co-directed, pushed the envelope consistently on style, whether camera movement and framing.

HBO Latin America and Pol-ka have both been upping the ante, HBO scaling up for action survival thriller “Mil colmillos” and period adventure series “Santos Dumont” and “The American Guest, producing its first remake (“Hard”) and moving into  LGBTQIA entertainment with “Todxs.” Pol-ka announced last week at Conecta Fiction its first series fully produced outside Argentina, “El cielo a tiros.” With Fendrik at the helm, “Entre Hombres” promises one of the hardest-hitting of HBO Latin America’s series to date, a vision of a violent, directionless, corruption-sodden Buenos Aires. Right up Fendrik’s street.

Netflix Continues African Growth with “Blood & Water”

Netflix’s has kicked off production on its second live-action African original, “Blood & Water,” set to launch on the platform in 2020. The series is helmed by one of South Africa’s most exciting up-and-coming talents, Nosipho Dumisa; her feature debut “Number 37” was a finalist for the SXSW Gamechanger Award in 2018. “Blood & Water,” produced by Cape Town’s Gambit Films, turns on a teenage girl dealing with recently unearthed family secrets while navigating the perils of her Cape Town high school. In December Netflix announced another South African series, “Queen Sono,” and in April its first animated original from the continent in “Mama K’s Team 4,” excerpts of which were shown to an upbeat reception at Annecy this month. Also at the Festival, Netflix announced an initiative meant to grow the continent’s animation industry, promising to provide full scholarships to France’s famed Gobelins School of Images for up to ten African students.

New Zealand YA Sci-Fi “Cul de Sac” Lands European Distribution

Three major European free-to-air broadcasters have picked up the rights to New Zealand sci-fi series “Cul de Sac.” The BBC in the U.K., YLE in Finland and Denmark’s DR have all finalized agreements with Jetpack Distribution to bring all three seasons of six episodes of the YA sci-fi series to European audiences. The series, produced by Greenstone TV for TVNZ2 in New Zealand, takes place in an alternate reality dystopia where all adults have disappeared, and electricity and internet have been cut off. It follows a young protagonist who must keep her younger siblings safe from dark forces intent on eliminating them. The BBC will stream the series on its iPlayer platform.

Nordic Talents Pitching Competition Selects Student Participants

The Nordisk Film & TV Fond has selected fifteen projects to participate at the Nordic Talents pitching competition taking place this Sept. 4-5 at the National Film School of Denmark. A $30,000 top prize and $6,000 special mention will be awarded to two selected projects to be used to further develop their work. Seven of the 15 titles are TV projects, four live-action and three animated. The Nordic Talents event will also host a masterclass by standout Icelandic writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson, who last year participated in Cannes Critics’ Week and won the SACD Screenwriting Award with “Woman at War” and the San Sebastian Film Festival Audience Award with “Of Horses and Men.”

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

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