The Red Sea Film Festival has announced that its second edition will run Dec. 1-10 this year, after its 2021 inaugural event saw nearly 140 films from 67 countries in 34 languages screen for more than 30,000 ticket holders and over 3,100 accredited industry guests. The Festival will once again be held in Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, old-town Al Balad.
“We are grateful to the film and local community who put their trust in us, this was a huge undertaking and the team worked extremely hard to deliver a Festival that I believe exceeded expectations,” said festival chairman Mohammed Al-Turki. “To bring people together through the universal language of film within the historic surroundings of Jeddah’s historic oldtown, to see emerging local filmmakers present their films alongside international counterparts to full cinemas was truly extraordinary. The future is bright for Saudi film and I look forward to welcoming return and new guests from around the world for our second edition.”
Managing director Shivani Pandya Malhotra added: “We were thrilled with the first edition and the overwhelmingly positive reaction from our local and international guests. Of course, this is just the beginning and we will strive to build upon the foundations of a Festival that promises a bright future for talent, brings the very best of cinema to audiences, supports the flourishing Saudi film industry, and becomes a gateway for business opportunities and collaboration.”
The Duchess of Cambridge will appear on CBeebies “Bedtime Stories” on Feb. 13, reading “The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson. The first royal to appear on the program, she is doing so to raise awareness for Children’s Mental Health week, running Feb. 7-14, and picked the book because it fits well withing this year’s theme of “growing together.” She joins an impressive roster of A-list talent which have appeared on the program including the likes of Tom Hardy, Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Dolly Parton, Elton John and Ed Sheeran. Other big names scheduled for upcoming specials include Regé-Jean Page, Emily Watson and Ewan McGregor.
Universal Pictures has dropped the trailer for mountaineering doc “The Last Mountain,” which will release on March 15. Directed by Emmy-winner Chris Terril (“Alison’s Last Mountain”) and produced by Julia Nottingham (“Skate Kitchen”) and Olivia Lichenstein (“Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me”), “The Last Mountain” is the multi-generational story of British climber Tom Ballard, who disappeared on one of the Himalayas most deadly mountains in February 2019, just miles away from K2 where his mother Alison Hargreaves, a groundbreaking climber herself, died 25 years prior. In the trailer, we’re introduced to Ballard and those who were closest to him before his disappearance. Breathtaking clips of record-breaking climbs offer insight into the psyche of one of mountain climbing’s true dynasties. The film will be released in the U.S. on Digital and on demand from March 15, 2022.
Netflix series “Scoop,” directed by Indian filmmaker Hansal Mehta (“Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story”) has commenced filming. Inspired by Jigna Vora’s book “Behind The Bars In Byculla: My Days in Prison,” the series traces the journey of Jagruti Pathak, an ambitious crime journalist who is charged for the murder of a fellow journalist and ends up in a prison cell with those she once reported on. Created by Mehta and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul (“Thappad”), “Scoop” is produced for Netflix by Matchbox Shots’ Sanjay Routray.
Malaysian pay-TV operator Astro will permanently close down its Kristal Astro subsidiary in neighboring Brunei at the end of March. “Considering the fast-changing technology trends causing huge shifts in consumer preferences towards digital media consumption, we have come to a fork in the road that calls for us to make this difficult decision,” the company said in a statement. The country has a tiny population of just 500,000 people. Astro had operated the separate service there for 21 years. – Patrick Frater
Canal Plus Group’s supervisory board has appointed Anna Marsh as a member of the board for the next four years, starting Feb. 8, 2022. With the company since 2008, Marsh has been CEO at Studiocanal since 2019, having previously served as head of international sales and managing director at Studiocanal U.K.
“Her international profile, knowledge of our markets and ability to oversee all her teams, as well as the greatest European and international talents across cinema and series, are essential in the acceleration and growth of Studiocanal, which she has already led to new heights,” said Canal Plus Group Management Board chairman Maxime Saada. “Anna Marsh is a great and inspiring professional, whose qualities and skills are valuable assets for our Group.”
The Asia Video Industry Association has appointed Matthew Cheetham as GM of the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) with immediate effect. Cheetham, an IP lawyer, takes over from Aaron Herps. “Over the last four years CAP has made real inroads into the systemic problems of video piracy in Asia. The blocking of pirate sites is becoming more common in many markets, laws have been introduced to limit access to infringing set-top devices, constructive relationships have been forged with intermediaries to limit access to pirate services and investigations and prosecutions have been affected,” the organization said. “And yet the problem remains the single biggest impediment to the growth of the legitimate content creation industry and ecosystem.” – Patrick Frater
International Literary Properties (ILP) has hired executive producer Emma Bell as its new VP of creative and brand as it expands its TV and film co-production capacity. Bell joins the company from Sony’s Stolen Picture, where she was head of development. Before that, she spent a decade at Sky as head of digital entertainment and head of development. In her new role, Bell will head ILP’s creative team to adapt the company’s catalog to the screen. Bell will work out of the company’s London offices, reporting to ILP CEO U.K. and Europe, Hilary Strong.
AMC Networks’ genre streaming platform Shudder has acquired “The Spine of Night,” and the film will stream exclusively on the platform starting March 24 in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The ultra-violent fantasy epic animated feature was co-written and co-directed by Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King and boasts a voice cast featuring Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess”), Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult”), Betty Gabriel (“Get Out”) and Joe Manganiello (“True Blood”).