Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival (Dec. 6-15), the kingdom’s first full fledged international film event, will close with the world premiere of Kabir Khan‘s Bollywood cricket-themed film “’83.” The film tells the true story of the underdog Indian men’s cricket team led by Kapil Dev, played by Bollywood star Ranveer Singh, which defeated reigning champions the West Indies at the 1983 World Cup finals.
Khan, the film’s leading lady Deepika Padukone, Dev and his winning team members Mohinder Amarnath and Krishnamachari Srikkanth will attend the premiere.
The film, produced by Reliance Entertainment, Phantom Films and Kabir Khan Films, will release across the Gulf region on Dec. 23 and worldwide on Dec. 24.
On the eve of the Red Sea festival, Saudi Arabia’s nascent national film commission has revealed its overall plan to kickstart a local film industry in the kingdom where cinemas and filmmaking were banned for 35 years until 2017.
The Saudi Film Commission plan involves an incentive to lure international productions, details of which are still being kept under wraps, and the establishment of a new Saudi Film Institute dedicated to training film professionals in all areas of the industry, plus a national film archive dedicated to the preservation of historical Saudi films.
Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah AlQhatani in a statement called the Saudi film industry “one of the fastest growing in the Middle East, which is further evidence that the Saudi film sector is the emerging market to watch,” he said. The plan’s stated goal is to foster a Saudi film industry with $500 million in revenues. – Nick Vivarelli
“Flee,” an animated documentary executive produced by Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) has taken the Best Feature Film award at the Manchester Animation Festival’s Industry Excellence Awards and Film Awards.
The documentary film, about a refugee who reveals the story of his flight from Afghanistan to Denmark, was voted on unanimously by the jury, who said: “Once you’ve seen ‘Flee’ there’s no arguing with the quality of work on display in its craft, its deeply emotive story, and its incredible art design.”
Other winners at the awards included writer Sophie Dutton for “Hey Duggee: The Pet Badge” and storyboard artist Graeme Young for “It’s Pony.” – K.J. Yossman
Elsewhere, Riz Ahmed himself will receive a prize, the British Independent Film Awards‘ Richard Harris Award that honors an actor who has contributed significantly to British films throughout their career. It has previously been bestowed upon Kristin Scott Thomas, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julie Walters, John Hurt, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent and Glenda Jackson.
The BIFA winners will be announced at an in-person ceremony in London on Dec. 5.
Screen Yorkshire has appointed Caroline Cooper Charles as its new chief executive. She will take up the post on Jan. 1, 2022. Cooper Charles, who replaces outgoing CEO Sally Joynson, boasts a 25-year career in the audio-visual industry, most recently as Screen Yorkshire’s head of creative, where she oversaw talent development as well as Film Office and Yorkshire Content Fund. She has previously worked in talent development for the Scottish Film Talent Network, as head of film at Creative England and head of creative development at Warp X, among other positions. – K.K. Yossman
Meanwhile, David Smyth is joining Beyond Rights as its new CEO on Jan. 3, reporting into Mikael Borglund, CEO and MD of Beyond International. Smyth’s most recent role was founder and CEO of U.K. multi-channel AVOD service YouLook.tv, and has had previous stints at Twentieth Century Fox as senior VP and MD and at Sky 1 as head of acquisitions. He has also worked at the BBC and ITV.
The position at Beyond Rights became available after Kate Llewellyn-Jones decided to step aside to free up time to focus on family commitments. She will remain in the business full-time into early 2022 to ensure a smooth handover.
Fremantle has acquired global distribution rights to the “Parental Guidance” format, where opinionated parents with diverse parenting techniques take turns assessing each other’s style through a series of challenges.
Originally developed and produced by Eureka Productions for Channel 9 in Australia, “Parental Guidance,” was one of the channel’s biggest launches of 2021. Hosted by journalist Ally Langdon and parenting expert Dr. Justin Coulson, the show recently became the most watched non-news show in Australia, over “Celebrity MasterChef,” “Big Brother VIP” and “The Bachelorette.”