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An open letter calling for the immediate release of Egyptian film producer Moataz Abdelwahab was published Friday, cosigned by the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) and its founding institutions, which include the European Film Academy, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the Human Rights Film Network, among others.

The letter claims that Abdelwahab disappeared from his Cairo office on May 5 and wasn’t seen again until May 11, when he presented at a hearing in front of the Supreme Court for State Security, where he was accused of “partnering with a terrorist organization” and “spreading false news.”

According to ICFR, the accusations followed his involvement on several cultural documentaries purchased by and aired on Al Jazeera’s documentary channel. Last year, he produced Tamer Ezzat’s drama feature “When We’re Born,” which screened at El Gouna International Film Festival and Les Journées Cinématographique de Cartage.

“We are very concerned about his safety and that of his family — he is the father of two, Zeina (12) and Yousef (6) — and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Moataz Abdelwahab and encourage all film and culture institutions around the world to do the same,” the letter finishes.

FILM FUND

First Flight, an incubator for first time filmmakers headed by U.K. finance-production company Goldfinch, has announced a new Short Film Fund for directors and producers of up to £7,000 ($8,800).

Interested parties from anywhere in the world can apply for the fund, but the production must be shot in the U.K. Films of all genres will be considered, with up to three short films selected per round of funding. Goldfinch will employ a hands-off policy, granting full creative control of the selected projects to the creators and guaranteed distribution through a partnership with its streaming platform BirdBox.com. All provided funding will be in the form of non-recoupable grants.

Submissions for the first round of funding are now open. Early bird submitting ends Aug. 14, with the final submission deadline of Oct. 1. Interested parties can apply here.

SERIES

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is headed back to Channel 4 in the U.K. with a new program shot entirely from home and focusing on simple, cost-effective dishes made with ingredients a typical family is likely to have around the house.

Jamie: Keep Cooking Family Favourites” will air on Channel 4 in August, and was produced as a follow-up to Oliver’s “Jamie: Keep Cooking and Carry On,” created in response to COVID-19 lockdowns to help families stuck at home and cooking more than ever before.

Fremantle will handle international distribution for the series, produced by Samantha Beddoes and Katie Millard at Jamie Oliver Productions.

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Jamie Oliver Courtesy of FremantleMedia International

HIRING

Fremantle U.K. has hired Kate Edmunds as the new director of programs, responsible for comedy and entertainment projects at Talkback, a Fremantle company. Edmunds comes to Talkback from Tiger Aspect, producers of viral comedy content such as “Drunk History” and “Bad Education,” where she was director of development.

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Edmunds, who previously worked at Talkback as executive producer on “Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier.” Other producer credits include late-night comedy program “The Last Leg,” quiz show “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” and celebrity talk show “Alan Carr: Chatty Man.”

Recent Talkback programs include Netflix’s “Too Hot to Handle” and ITV’s “Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow” and English soccer reality show “Harry’s Heroes.”