Santa Barbara International Film Festival To Return In-Person In 2022

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced that the event will be returning in person on March 2-12, 2022.

Presented by UGG, the 37th annual edition of the Santa Barbara festival will feature screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels and celebrity tributes throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre.

The film lineup and schedule will be announced in February 2022.

Last year, SBIFF debuted 47 world premieres and 37 U.S. premieres at two beachside drive-in theaters. Honorary awards bestowed on Bill Murray, Carey Mulligan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Zendaya and Delroy Lindo.

“After more than a year of staring at screens from home, SBIFF is chomping at the bit to welcome everyone back to Santa Barbara for collective experiences and engaging face-to-face interactions about cinema!” Roger Durling, SBIFF’s executive director, said in a statement.

Passes for the festival will go on sale in August.

Ava DuVernay’s ‘Array’ Reveals Fifth Artist Commission for Law Enforcement Accountability Project

Ava DuVernay’s narrative change collective “Array” has revealed the fifth artist commission in advance of the Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP) first anniversary.

The hand-painted mural “Blue Is The Color We See Before We Die” by multi-disciplinary artist Delita Martin will embark on a multi-city tour starting at the Houston Museum of African American Culture in July 2021.

Martin’s piece unmasks Bastrop, Texas County Police Officer Daniel Willis’ actions that resulted in the 2014 murder of Yvette Smith. Willis responded to a 911 domestic disturbance call by Ms. Smith, where she was acting as a peacemaker between two men. When Willis arrived at the scene, he shot Ms. Smith twice with his personal AR-15 as she opened the door.

Delita’s exquisitely layered mural ‘Blue is The Color We See Before We Die’ is a visual eulogy dedicated to Yvette Smith and so many other women who have tragically lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement officials,” Mercedes Cooper, Array’s vice president of public programming, said in a statement. We must continue to make these stories visible and demand police accountability for the sanctioned brutality happening in our communities and at our doorsteps.

Focused on storytelling around police violence and abuse, LEAP is an initiative that aims to empower activists to pursue social change across multiple media platforms. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the fund was founded to catalyze creative expression around police violence and accountability.

BAFTA Opens Applications For BAFTA Breakthrough 2021 Across The US and UK

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) announced that applications for BAFTA Breakthrough 2021 have opened across the USA and UK.

BAFTA’s flagship talent support initiative, previously known as Breakthrough Brits, is a partnership with Netflix that has been running in the UK since 2013. The initiative, which showcases the next generation of rising creative talent in the entertainment industry, expanded to the US and India last year.

Through a cross-industry jury of leading professionals, BAFTA works closely alongside local cultural bodies in each region to ensure they offer expertise and deliver the necessary support to new talent. Winning applicants will receive one-to-one mentoring and career guidance, full voting membership of BAFTA, free access to BAFTA events and global screenings for 12 months.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work BAFTA has done in strengthening the creative community of its artists during such a crucial time in our industries,” Kathryn Busby, chair of BAFTA Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Now in its second year, programs like Breakthrough USA are integral in expanding those networks and ensuring those just beginning to find success can build on that momentum for years to come. I can’t wait to see the talented individuals that will be discovered this year.”

BAFTA has championed over 160 newcomers, including performers Bukky Bakray, Paapa Essiedu, Letitia Wright, Florence Pugh, Josh O’Connor, Abubakar Salim and Lauren Ridloff; games creatives Chella Ramanan, Segun Akinola, Gemma Langford; and directors Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham, Rose Glass, Stella Corradi and Destiny Ekaragha.

Supporters of the initiative in recent years include actors Olivia Colman, Tilda Swinton, Sterling K. Brown, Randall Park and Zawe Ashton; actor-producer Brad Pitt; directors Steve McQueen, Tom Harper, Barry Jenkins and Asif Kapadia; game designers and developers Brenda Romero, Hideo Kojima, Tim Schafer; actor-writers Sharon Horgan, Amy Schumer, and Richard Ayoade; writer-directors Amma Asante and Armando Iannucci; and screenwriters Scott Frank and Jesse Armstrong.

To apply, click here. Applications close on July 23, and participants will be announced in the fall.

BAFTA’s Newly-Formed Breakthrough India Initiative Announces First Wave Of Participants

BAFTA also announced the ten selected Indian talents for the first-ever BAFTA Breakthrough India initiative. The participants for 2020/2021 are:

Akshay Singh — Writer/Producer (Mehsampur, The Gold-Laden Sheep and The Sacred Mountain)
Arun Karthick — Director/Writer (Nasir, Sivapuranam/The Strange Case of Shiva)
Jay Pinak Oza — Cinematographer (Gully Boy)
Karthikeya Murthy — Composer (KD (A) Karuppudurai)
Palomi Ghosh — Actor (Typewriter, Nachom-ia Kumpasar)
Renu Savant — Director/Writer (The Ebb Tide)
Shruti Ghosh — Game Developer & Art Director (Raji- An Ancient Epic)
Sumit Purohit — Director/Writer (Scam 1992 – Writer/Editor)
Tanya Maniktala — Actor (A Suitable Boy)
Vikram Singh — Director (Elephants In My Backyard)

As mentioned above, participants will receive one-to-one mentoring, global networking opportunities, free access to BAFTA events and screenings for 12 months and full voting BAFTA membership. The jury members who selected the participants were A. R Rahman, Anupam Kher, Monika Shergill, Mira Nair and Siddharth Roy Kapur.

The opening applications for the next wave of Breakthrough have been delayed.

Tribeca Documentary ‘Ferguson Rises’ Colorized at Arsenal FX Color

Senior colorist J.R. Benson worked with director Mobolaji Olambiwonnu and cinematographer Jerry Henry on the post-production of “Ferguson Rises”at Arsenal FX Color. Olambiwonnu’s documentary feature debut will make its world premiere at Tribeca Festival’s inaugural series of online premieres on June 15. It centers on Ferguson, Miss. as it became a civil rights movement flashpoint after a white police officer was acquitted of criminal charges in the killing of Michael J. Brown.

“The narrative in the media was oriented toward what the community lost,”  Olambiwonnu said. “I wanted to go deeper and look at the human beings, on all sides, who were affected by these events, the police, white citizens, black citizens, Michael Brown’s father, and others. I wanted to provide a counter-narrative to the events that took place, one based not on loss, but on hope and resilience.”

The director aimed to use color to present an image of Ferguson that contrasted with how the city was presented in the media. The film begins saturated in vibrant colors to evoke an uplifting mood and later becomes desaturated to reflect the tragedy and turmoil that devoured the city.

“By the end of the film, we increase the color spectrum again as people feel more hopeful and life comes back to the community,” he explained.

“Ferguson Rises” is the first film in a series that Olambiwonnu plans to produce through his foundation, Hope, Love and Beauty Project, which aims to produce inspiring films and events that bring hope, healing, dignity and investment to communities in need around the world.

BAFTA to Announce GSA Student Awards Winners in July

BAFTA has announced 15 finalists for its GSA Student Awards. Two more categories were added to the competition: for games and immersive. BAFTA announced that entries were received from 126 schools in 34 countries in the categories of narrative film, animation, documentary, 360 videos, experiential VR, VR games and PC games. Winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on July 23

‘Mare of Easttown’ Executive Producers Collaborate With ‘Spawn’ Creator Todd McFarlane For ‘Sam and Twitch’ Series For Wiip

“Spawn” creator Todd McFarlane has teamed up with “Mare of Easttown” executive producers Paul Lee and Mark Roybal to develop a “Sam and Twitch” television drama series for Wiip.

The project will be based on two of the most prominent human characters in the “Spawn” comic franchise, detectives Sam Burke and “Twitch” Williams.

“Condor” co-creators and showrunners Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg will adapt the project and serve as executive producers on the series alongside Lee, Roybal, McFarlane and Sean Canino for McFarlane Films.

“My two detective characters Sam Burke and “Twitch” Williams appeared in the very first issue of ‘Spawn #1’ back in 1992,” McFarlane said. “Since then, they’ve become fan favorites and have branched out into their own comic series throughout the years. “Their stories, blending traditional crime noir and the supernatural, is a combination that I’ve always thought would make for an entertaining television drama. The addition of Wiip and the creative writing skills of Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg make for a very compelling team that we all hope leads to the entertaining show we know this can be. If you like cool, moody, creepy, odd crime stories, this will be your cup of tea!”

Smilovic & Katzberg are repped by CAA, Lit Entertainment Group, and attorney Amy Nickin for Smilovic and Bruce Gellman for Katzberg. Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Films are repped by CAA.

WIF Launches Inaugural Emerging Producers Program

WIF (Women In Film, Los Angeles) has announced the first class of participants for their new Emerging Producers Program.

The one-year course provides young women and non-binary people the information and entry points they need to advance in their production careers. Through masterclasses, mentorship and advising, participants will gain valuable insights into the fundamentals of creative and physical production, the various tracks producers can take and how to start a successful independent business.

The Emerging Producers Program participants are Apoorva Charan, Lydia “Sue-Ellen” Chitunya, Luz Agudelo Gipson, Vanessa Haroutunian, Takara Joseph, Quan Lateef-Hill, Sophie Luo, Alexandra Perez and Juliana Schatz Preston.

Selected by a jury of industry leaders and veteran producers, the first class of participants who were selected have experience in producing shorts, digital content, commercials, series and documentaries.

Program mentors include Jenn Asaro (VP, physical production finance, Warner Bros.); Chelsea Barnard (“Booksmart,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”); Yolanda Cochran (SVP, live-action long-form production, Nickelodeon & Awesomeness); Linda Goldstein Knowlton (“We Are the Radical Monarchs,” “Code Black”), Niija Kuykendall (EVP, Film Production, Warner Bros.); Monica Levinson (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), Lyn Sisson-Talbert (“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, Bookmarks”) and Jeanette Volturno (partner & co-founder, Catchlight Studios).

“In our work, we’ve seen a growing need for resources dedicated specifically to producers,” Maikiko James, WIF director of programs, said in a statement. “As we continue to make strides for gender parity in our industry, it’s critical to support underrepresented producers. This cohort represents extraordinary talent that we are committed to supporting in sustainable careers.”

This program is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. It is also supported by eMinutes, which is waiving its fees for legal services including forming LLCs, for participants of the WIF Emerging Producers Program.

Pixomondo and William F. White Partner To Bring Virtual Production To Canada

Visual effects company Pixomondo and Canadian TV and film equipment rental business William F. White International announced a multi-year exclusive collaboration to build virtual production studios across Canada.

WFW and PXO are already building two new stages in Vancouver and Toronto, which are set to open this year. In addition to co-renting the LED volume equipment, they plan to build several more sites in Canada during 2022. The combined initial capital commitment from the two companies exceeds $30 million.

The high demand for virtual production shoots, coupled with strong bookings at Toronto’s first LED Volume in the city’s West End, prompted the companies’ decision to formalize the working arrangement.

The second Toronto stage will be completed in July 2021 and is designed for shorter-term bookings and projects with quick turnaround times. It will be based at Studio City’s recently completed development at the east end of the city’s downtown core, minutes away from PXO’s Toronto office at Revival Studios and close to WFW’s Toronto office and Pinewood Studios.

The new Vancouver stage will be the largest build of the three sites to date and is scheduled for completion in September 2021.

As with the first Toronto stage, the two new volumes will be operated by on-set PXO personnel for all productions, including those using the company’s 3D environment creation services. PXO and WFW have designed and will build the volumes in close collaboration with their technology partners Brompton Technology, Epic Games, Lenovo, NVIDIA and ROE Visual.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to formalize our collaboration with WFW and their unassailable track record in film and TV equipment rental and studio property management,” PXO CEO Jonny Slow said in a statement. “Combined with PXO’s award-winning VFX offering, and a game-changing capital commitment from both parties, we are excited to confirm additional virtual production investment into Canada and into these state-of-the-art physical production techniques.”

“As leaders in our respective industries, our two companies are such a natural fit when it comes to providing a full-service client experience that is truly unmatched in the world of virtual production,” says Garin Josey, executive vice president and COO of WFW. “This next phase we’re embarking on together has the potential to radically change the production process. These LED volumes in Vancouver and Toronto are only a preview of what’s to come.”

“Over the past few months, we’ve been building a fantastic relationship with Jonny and the team at PXO and we’re eagerly anticipating a bright future together,” says Rick Perotto, vice president, business development, WFW. “Our local offices in Vancouver and Toronto will provide virtual production clients with access to a world-class selection of production equipment to support their every need.”

CAA Launches Sixth Annual Moebius Film Festival

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has announced that its 6th annual Moebius Film Festival, which features the work of diverse Los Angeles-based graduate film students, is going virtual for the second consecutive year. The event will take place on June 9-10.

The event, which will feature 12 directors from six countries, will consist of live-action and animated short films. CAA agents will serve as mentors to the filmmakers from the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory, School of Film/Video at CalArts, UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, USC School of Cinematic Arts and Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. The film festival will be virtual for the second consecutive year.

The festival was conceived in 2015 by then-trainees and now CAA motion picture agents Christina Chou, Zach Kaplan, and Pete Stein, plus Lingie Park. Produced through a collaboration of colleagues across CAA’s Motion Pictures department, the event draws attendees from major agencies, management companies, production companies, studios, networks and streaming companies.

“In a time of profound change and unprecedented challenges, these talented storytellers from across the globe were inspired to create art,” said Chou, Kaplan, Park, and Stein in a joint statement. “We are proud to celebrate the 2021 Moebius filmmakers and share their work with the creative community.”

The 2021 programming line-up is as follows:

June 9th

“Wild Seed,” directed by Sunyin Zhang
During the period of the one-child policy, Peng, an illegally pregnant mother, escapes from her home and begins a solitary journey in the vast wilderness to hide from the government’s ruthless members.
“Juliet,” directed by Ira Storozhenko
“Juliet” tells a story of a transgender teenage girl, Serena. As a new girl in her new school, she’s quiet and shy, but she still dreams of being “Juliet” in the school play – like all the other girls. When she decides to audition for the lead role, the competition is high and her peers make it almost impossible, but she finds the courage to stand in the spotlight and accept herself just as she is.
“My Ex-Boyfriend,” directed by Cissi Efraimsson
A woman finds her boyfriend in a strange transformation. A surreal portrayal of two lovers growing apart.
“Mass Ave,” directed by Omar S. Kamara
Over a day of landscaping work, a first-generation Sierra Leonean American and his immigrant father have their tense relationship and different outlooks on life transformed irreversibly when they are racially profiled by police.
“Get Kissed or Die Brian,” directed by Liat Krongrad
In the year 2005, 12-year-old, Brian hears a rumor that his girlfriend is ready to “hook up” and seeks guidance from his peers, pop culture, and the internet.
“Soak,” directed by Hannah Bang
A 16-year-old tries to convince her runaway mother to return home.

June 10th

“Kush: A Bubblegum Western,” directed by Anthony Sneed
A relationship gets put to the test when a couple is pulled over while smuggling 25 pounds of marijuana in their trunk.
“Bind,” directed by Inka Rusi
A teenage girl comes to terms with her father whose for-your-own-good tough love hides a need for control.
“Lakutshon’ Ilanga,” directed by Phumi Morare
A young, Black nurse living in 1985 apartheid South Africa must face her worst fears when she learns that her activist younger brother may be in danger when he doesn’t return after school.
“Onions,” directed by Anna Scott
Two flightless Onions, Henry and Harold, go on a journey through the Snolly-Goster Woods.
“A History of Running Aground,” directed by Jake O’Hare
Through layers of reenactment, siblings Scott, Sharon, and Craig recount dramatic memories of their childhood sailing trips. A History of Running Aground examines how their family’s sense of humor about the experience masks traumas.
“Unmothered,” directed by Urvashi Pathania
A tragicomedy about the lies we tell the ones we love. When Priyanka, a rebellious American, goes back to India to immerse her mother’s ashes, she discovers her funny family has kept a serious secret.

Newport Beach Film Festival To Return With In-Person Screenings

The Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) announced that it will return live with in-person screenings on Oct. 21-28.

The 22nd annual event will return in full force with a series of world-premieres, afterparties, filmmaker Q&As and other special events throughout its eight-day run.

The festival will kick off with a red carpet premiere screening followed by an outdoor event gala with world class entertainment, a hosted bar by Tito’s Vodka and culinary tastings from Orange County’s premier restaurants.

The centerpiece of the 22nd Annual Festival will include Newport Beach Film Festival Honors featuring Variety’s 10 Actors To Watch. Previous honorees recipients include Cynthia Erivo, Gemma Chan, Glen Powell, Maya Hawke, Noah Jupe and Henry Golding.

“The Newport Beach Film Festival is extremely proud and excited to bring movie going back to Southern California,” Gregg Schwenk, CEO & co-founder of The Newport Beach Film Festival, said in a statement. “We look forward to screening incredible films and hosting amazing events this Fall.”

The Newport Beach Film Festival is sponsored in part by UCI Health, Morgan Stanley, Tito’s Vodka, Fashion Island, Visit Newport Beach and the City of Newport Beach.

Passes and tickets for film screenings, galas and special events will go on sale on Oct. 1.

Spin Master Announces Comprehensive Scholarship Program to Support Individuals from Underrepresented Communities Establish Careers in Toy, Entertainment and Digital Games

Spin Master has introduced the Spin Master Future of Play Scholarship program, which supports the education and career advancement of individuals from underrepresented communities in the fields of toy, entertainment and digital games.

The Canadian global toy company will commit to investing up to $100,000 annually in financial aid as well as mentorships and on-the-job experience.

Kicking off in time for fall 2021 enrollment, Spin Master will grant eight scholarships per year: three entertainment scholarships, one gaming scholarship and four toy scholarships with two based in Canada and two in the US.

The scholarships are available for individuals from underrepresented communities, including BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+ and indigent students seeking post-secondary education. In addition to financial support, recipients will have the opportunity to secure an internship at Spin Master and a potential full-time position upon completion of studies.

“Spin Master’s goal is to improve diverse representation within the children’s entertainment industry,” Tara Deakin, executive vice president and chief people officer, said in a statement. “We’re committed to enriching the lives of kids and their families, sharing diverse stories and fostering a unique and inclusive culture. The Spin Master Future of Play Scholarship embodies these values while also nurturing relationships with talented and passionate individuals who may not have access to the funds they need to pursue their dreams.”

Spin Master has established a specific set of criteria for each award and judging committees with representation from each discipline. The submissions will be reviewed by members from the employee resource group for diversity and inclusion, the respective creative center and talent acquisition.

The deadline for applications is July 23 at 5 p.m. PST.

Rooftop Films Returns for 25th Anniversary Summer Series in NYC

Rooftop Films, the non-profit organization and film community celebrated as New York’s home for independent films,  announced the return of their annual Rooftop Films Summer Series.

Among the films set to screen are Janicza Bravo’s “Zola,” presented by A24 on the lawn in Fort Greene Park, and  “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” ESPN’s new multi-part film detailing the uniquely wild championship run of the 1986 Mets.

Joshua Rofé’s “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed,” and Sally Aitken’s “Playing with Sharks,” are the documentaries will also screen when the series begins June 17 at Green-Wood Cemetery.

The screenings will follow all CDC and state guidelines which allow for more New Yorkers to gather safely for cultural events. The Rooftop Films Summer Series is presented by SundanceTV.

The Summer Series will run from June 17th through mid-September and will include more than 40 outdoor screenings featuring new independent feature films, short film programs, and episodic events. Programming highlights include:

Special screenings of new festival favorites from around the world will include Amalia Ulman’s “El Planeta,” Natalie Morales’ “Language Lessons,” Graham Mason’s “Inspector Ike,” Aneil Karia’s “Surge,” Todd Stephens’ “Swan Song” and Salomé Jashi’s “Taming the Garden.”

“Last year, Rooftop Films was able to create drive-in venues across New York City and present more than 150 outdoor events – but nothing replaces the experience of being seated together in a crowd, watching a film that transports us to another place and reminds us that we are very much not alone,” said Dan Nuxoll, President of Rooftop Films. “As we selected the films for this year’s Summer Series, we sought out bold new works that focus the beams of light shining through the darkness, capture the celebrations that became acts of resistance, and depict the happy accidents that only come about when we gather as one.”

Rooftop films also announced partnerships with iconic New York organizations to create new guest experiences.

‘A Week in Paradise’ Cast Announced

MSR Media announced that Malin Åkerman (“Watchmen”), Connie Nielsen (“Wonder Woman”), Philip Winchester (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) and Jack Donnelly (“Atlantis”) have been cast in the upcoming romantic comedy film “A Week in Paradise.”

The film will follow Maggie (Åkerman), a film star who escapes to a tropical hotel in Nevis after discovering her film director husband (Donnelly) got his new leading lady pregnant. After a week in paradise, she discovers herself and meets a new love interest (Winchester), but the outside world soon comes crashing back in.

“A Week in Paradise” is directed by Philippe Martinez, and will begin shooting this week on Nevis. Produced by MSR Media’s Martinez and Highfield Grange Studios’ Alan Latham, the film is executive produced by Lee Beasley and Karinne Behr from MSR Media, Alastair Burlingham and Charlie Dombek of Sherborne Media and Jacob Katsman.

‘Black Widow’ to Open with Expanded Aspect Ratio Exclusively in IMAX

IMAX announced that select scenes of Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” will debut on IMAX screens with an expanded aspect ratio. With 22 minutes of footage specially formatted for IMAX theatres, film fans can experience the film at 1.90:1 aspect ratio — showing up to 26% more of the onscreen image.

Aspect ratio is the technical term for the proportional relationship between an image’s width and height. While most films are presented in an aspect ratio called CinemaScope (2.40:1) which is why they appear very wide but not very high. IMAX provides filmmakers with the ability to use an expanded aspect ratio – allowing them to use more of the original image. Watching a film with an expanded aspect ratio provides audiences with a full immersive view that fills the peripheral vision more than any other cinematic experience.

Directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” stars Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz. It will debut in IMAX theatres on July 9.

Filmhub Expands International Reach with rlaxx TV, PlayerPlus and Zuzu — EXCLUSIVE

Filmhub announced that it has closed three new international distribution deals with rlaxx TV (Germany), PlayerPlus (United Kingdom) and Zuzu (Canada). The deals will grant filmmakers further access to streaming services worldwide.

“One of the keys to monetizing film in today’s distribution landscape is being able to reach all streaming services as a filmmaker,” Filmhub CEO & co-founder Alan d’Escragnolle said in a statement. “These services are becoming increasingly fragmented worldwide as they each develop their own unique brand and audience. By partnering with these services, we can increase the likelihood of a film’s monetary success by bringing access to our filmmakers.”