The Melbourne Film Festival will return to cinemas after two turbulent years caused by COVID-related disruptions – the city endured one of the world’s longest pandemic lockdowns – and will run Aug 4-21, 2022. It will open with powerful Australian-U.K.-Serbian-made first film “Of An Age,” by renown shorts director Goran Stolevski. Festival organizers pitch it as “a heart-meltingly tender, quintessentially Melbourne queer coming-of-age tale that will make you swoon from beginning to end.” The MFF is scheduled to close with another Aussie title, documentary “Clean.” Directed by Lachlan McLeod, it examines how so-called trauma cleaner Sandra Pankhurst responded to an unseen world with radical kindness. The festival has also teased some of the titles that it will program between the gala bookend events. They include: Kamila Andini’s “Yuni”; Ari Folman’s “Where Is Anne Frank”; John Hughes and Tom Zubrycki’s “Senses of Cinema”; Ulrich Seidl’s “Rimini”; Hong Sang-soo’s “The Novelist’s Film”; Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “Jane by Charlotte”; and First Nations anthology film “We Are Still Here.” The full line up will be unveiled on July 12.
Kids’ media company Bright Little Labs has expanded its board with a bevy of heavy-hitters including broadcaster and diversity champion Marcus Ryder, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Vanessa Brookman and ITV’s director of distribution for new platforms, Sarah Tierney.
The board expansion comes as Bright Little Labs eyes both domestic and international growth, including the development of a kids-focused content slate with global appeal. The company counts Warner Bros. Discovery, Bethnal Green Ventures and entertainment IP fund SENT among its investors.
“I founded Bright Little Labs to address the lack of diversity in kids’ media, where only 4% of protagonists are people of colour, 92% of female characters are underweight, and 0% of princesses are coders,” said CEO Sophie Deen. “I want to build global brands that engage children in exciting and inclusive worlds which seed curiosity in skills areas like computer science and coding. I am thrilled that Marcus, Vanessa and Sarah are joining the Board, bringing a unique set of experiences to help deliver on that vision.”
“Saving Chintu,” a short film which had a glittering festival career and was a contender for the 2021 Oscars, has been picked up by India’s largest streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar, after a deal with Amazon Prime fell through. Directed by Tushar Tyagi, the film is the story of an American Indian gay couple who travel to India to adopt a child living with HIV in an orphanage. There they must cope with the cultural challenges that the country presents. “Life of Pi” and “Star Trek Discovery” actor Adil Husain starred in and produced the film.
“The Land,” an Australian drama film by Swedish-born photographer Ingvar Kenne will play at the upcoming Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival, before getting a limited theatrical release in August, rolling out from Sydney. The film, about an ideal couple whose bliss is threatened by a best friend’s determination to atone for something long ago forgotten, is the first acquisition by FilmInk Originals. The label is operated by Dov Kornits, founder of FilmInk Magazine, and former head of theatrical releasing at Umbrella Entertainment. Operating in Australia and New Zealand, FilmInk Originals aims to “fill a gap in the market for quality Australian and international films that slip through the cracks of traditional distribution.”
Production begins this weekend on “Cry Me a River,” a rare Taiwan-India-France co-produced short film by emerging Indian director Suman Sen. His previous “The Silent Echo” won the best short film prize at the U.K.’s Raindance festival. Working with Taiwan producer Ivy Shen (“Dostojee”), Sen’s new film investigates Taiwan’s professional mourner culture and will star established actress Lee Yi-chieh. While Sen is currently preparing for 2023 production of his debut feature “Eka” (aka “Solo”) with Anurag Kashyap and Dominique Welinski on board as producers, “Cry Me a River” may also be a warm-up for a full-length feature on the mourner culture.