In response to the global COVID-19 crisis and the health and safety challenges facing live, in-person events, Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (GFF) has announced revised dates for its 4th edition, now set to run Oct. 23-31, a month after it was originally planned.
GFF director Intishal Al Timimi said in a statement: “Several film festivals have been impacted by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and their return to the scene will send a positive signal that the world is on its way to normalcy. At GFF, we choose to live in this hope and positivity and continue our commitment to make a contribution to the development of cinema internationally and in the region, and to ensure a safe yet enjoyable experience for all participants.”
This year’s festival will be the first public event held in the newly built 8,000 square-meter Gouna Conference and Culture Center. The festival program will be announced before the end of September.
Starzplay has announced European premiere dates for Season 2 of its Emmy-winning comedy “Ramy.” Season 2 sees two-time Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali join the cast as spiritual advisor and mentor to Ramy and is already garnering strong critical reviews.
Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. will see the Season 2 launch on Aug. 6 on the Starzplay platform. In the new season, Ramy expands on his spiritual journey from Season 1 by joining a new Muslim community and making a deeper commitment to his faith.
When the show first debuted at SXSW in 2019, it won the audience award for best series and creator Ramy Youssef went on to win the Golden Globe for best actor in a TV series, musical or comedy. Caroline Framke’s Variety review praised the series’ non-conformist nature, saying: “It digs into the specificity of its star’s perspective and experience to deliver something much more unique — and that, more than anything, is what makes it so worthwhile.”
King Bert Productions has appointed Nathan Waddington as its new director of children’s content. In the role, Waddington will assume the responsibility for overseeing the company’s children’s production slate, overseeing and expanding production and development, and sourcing new projects for kids and pre-school audiences. He will report to managing director Jo Sargent. Waddington succeeds Grainne McNamara in the role, who is taking on a consultancy position in the production sector where she will continue to work closely with King Bert.
Waddington comes from BBC Studios where he was head of children’s content, responsible for a portfolio including international hits such as “The Next Step” and Australian cartoon “Bluey.” King Bert’s slate includes the adaptation of Enid Blyton’s “Malory Towers,” and several of comedian and King Bert director David Walliams’ adaptations, including “The Midnight Gang” and “Grandpa’s Great Escape.”
Screen Ireland has awarded €3.2 million ($3.6 million) in strategic slate development funding to local companies in their development of project slates in feature film, TV, animation and documentary. Announced in early 2020, the Strategic Slate Development Fund was reevaluated and customized to respond to challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 26 production companies with more than 100 features and 65 TV series between them received backing. Previous awarded projects which went on to flourish include Oscar-nominated fare such as Cartoon Saloon’s “Song of the Sea” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite,” produced by Element Pictures.
Distribution of funding is fairly equitable, ranging from €75,000 to as much as €200,000 per company. Development fund money comes from Screen Ireland’s 2020 capital budget allocation and will be distributed “as quickly as possible over a one-year period to allow Screen Ireland to respond to the anticipated increased need for production funding in 2021,” according to the organization’s website.