U.K. broadcaster BBC has announced a raft of documentary commissions at the ongoing Sheffield Doc/Fest, including an adaptation of the bestselling book “Natives” by BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, bestselling author and social entrepreneur Akala‘s
The series “Akala: Race, Class and Empire” (working title), a BBC Three commission, will combine the story of Akala’s own personal journey of self-discovery with an exploration of issues of race, class and empire and how they affect the lives of young people today.
It was commissioned by Fiona Campbell, controller BBC Three and Clare Sillery, head of commissioning, documentaries, history and religion. It is being produced by Akala’s production company Immovable and long-time producing partner Greenacre Films.
Other commissions announced at Sheffield include “All At Sea: Fishing For Britain” (working title), a BBC One series looking at the world of deep-sea fishing; “The Nilsen Files: A Very British Crime Story” for BBC Two exploring how attitudes in the 1980s allowed the disappearance and murder of six young men to be overlooked; home renovation series “Flat Out Fabulous” for BBC Three; and single film “The Case Of Fri Martin,” about a deadly relationship, also for BBC Three.
Meanwhile, the BFI Doc Society Fund has partnered with FWD-Doc: Filmmakers with Disabilities to launch the FWD-Doc Engagement Pack at the Sheffield Doc/Fest. The Pack provides practical resources and information for the film industry on how to engage effectively, respectfully and creatively with disabled film talent and audiences.
It is available to download at https://www.fwd-doc.org/engagement-pack
The 71st Berlin International Film Festival Summer Special will begin on June 9 at an outdoor cinema specially constructed on Museum Island. The German federal commissioner for culture and the media, professor Monika Grütters, the mayor of Berlin Michael Müller, and the directors of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, will greet guests and a screening of “The Mauritanian” will be introduced virtually by director Kevin Macdonald and actors Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch, while Nancy Hollander, the attorney of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, whose story the film is based on, will personally introduce film.
Due to the pandemic, the Berlinale designed the Summer Special as a purely outdoor event for Berlin audiences, and this pilot project with mandatory testing was greenlit by the Berlin Senate. The festival will present 126 films to audiences from June 9-20 at 16 outdoor venues.
UKTV has appointed Emile Nawagamuwa as commissioning executive to grow the broadcaster’s factual and factual entertainment slate for the W, Yesterday, Dave and Gold channels, reporting to Hilary Rosen, deputy director of commissioning and head of factual and factual entertainment.
The executive, who starts June 21, is a series producer and Grierson-nominated director with over 15 years’ experience making documentaries and prime time factual programs for both U.K. and U.S. networks. Most recently, he produced the last two series of BBC Two’s BAFTA-nominated observational documentary “Hospital,” filmed in 2020-2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Casting and audition platform Entalex, which hopes to connect Hollywood productions to international Asian-Pacific crew and talent, has formally launched after a few years in development. The platform seeks to help casting directors and agents — particularly for productions that are being shot or produced overseas — discover actors, production and crew for film, TV, commercial and digital content. It does so via cloud-based software hosting a database and an interface to manage information and interactions.
The firm was established in 2018, and spent a few years raising funds, structuring the company and developing its platform. Although it was set to launch in January 2020, COVID-19 industry shutdowns pushed the date back. Production firms now signing up to place job opportunities on the site during its initial phase will be given a free premium plan. – Rebecca Davis
Distributor ZDF Enterprises has sold all four seasons of hit Nordic drama, “The Bridge” to North American streamer Topic and has also relicensed it to Australian public broadcaster SBS TV, following another recent sale to Israel’s KAN.
Launched in 2019, Topic, First Look Media’s flagship streaming service, features North American premieres, exclusive and original programming from around the world.
“The Bridge,” starring Sofia Helin, Kim Bodnia and Thure Lindhardt, has enjoyed huge international success and been remade five times (U.K./France, U.S./Mexico, Estonia/Russia, Malaysia/Singapore and Germany/Austria).
Finnish animation, publishing, and licensing studio Ferly has signed a co-production deal with Indian animation studio Toonz Media Group for its new animation series, “Kingdom of None.”
Aimed at children aged 5–8 years, the 52 11-minute episodes follow eight-year-old Meter Masterson, his pals James, Leo and Solo, and his sister Milli who race home every day to play in the Masterson Manor backyard. With its interesting places, props and costumes, the imaginary worlds created by Meter and his friends in his garden come to life as the “Kingdom of None.”
Ferly and Toonz will jointly handle the pre-production and animation production of the series, launching in 2023, while the post-production will be done at Telegael, Toonz Media Group’s animation and live action studio based in Galway, Ireland. Toonz will handle the distribution of the series outside of Scandinavia, with Ferly handling ancillary rights sales outside the Indian subcontinent.