American narrative feature projects in rough or final cut seeking finishing funds are now invited to submit to the 2022 edition of U.S. in Progress, which takes place Nov. 9-11 during the 13th American Film Festival (Nov.8-13) in Wroclaw, Poland. The strand pairs American projects in final production stages with European buyers and top Polish image and sound post-production companies and provides awards worth totally $100,000. The head of the Polish Film Institute, Radosław Śmigulski, will award one project with a $50,000 cash award to be spent on post-production, image, sound and/or VFX in Poland and Polish post-production companies Fixafilm, Orka Studio, Black Photon, XANF and Soundflower Studio are each offering a $10,000 in-kind award.
There is no entry fee, and films can be submitted through the U.S. in Progress website. The final deadline is September 11.
The program’s objective is to inspire U.S. producers to work with Poland, either by fostering co-productions or to connect them with services and, for future projects, locations. The Polish Film Institute offers production incentives for shooting in Poland. European buyers, sales agents, distributors and festival programmers will be present at the event.
Among recent noteworthy U.S. in Progress alumni are “Jethica,” by Pete Ohs, which was color graded at Black Photon in Warsaw and premiered at SXSW, and “Quantum Cowboys,” by Geoff Marslett, winner of the Audience Choice Award at the Champs Elysees Film Festival as well as Best Original Music for the work of composer Maciej Zielinski at the Annecy Film Festival. Last year’s Polish Film Institute Award went to “You and I,” by Summer Shelton.
Elsewhere, filmmaker Rithy Panh will serve as the dean for the Chanel X BIFF Asian Film Academy (AFA), the Busan International Film Festival’s talent incubator for emerging Asian filmmakers. Alongside Panh, filmmakers Tan Chui Mui and Um Hye-jung have been confirmed as mentors.
Panh was awarded the 66th Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard Prize for “The Missing Picture” (2013) and won the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award at Busan the same year. He recently won the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival for “Everything Will Be O.K.” (2022). Tan Chui Mui won the New Currents Award and the FIPRESCI Award at Busan and won the Tiger Award at Rotterdam for “Love Conquers All” (2006). Um Hye-jung, a graduate of the first AFA program previously partnered with the Busan International Film Festival in 2005. She won Women’s Film of the Year Award for “Bluebeard” (2017).
This year, 407 applicants across 35 countries applied to participate in the AFA program, with female filmmakers accounted for 67% of applicants. The program saw increased participation from Central Asian countries Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and other Asian countries such as Nauru and Yemen. The final selected members will produce a film with professional training and mentoring for 18 days from Sept. 27-Oct. 14. The completed work will be screened during this year’s Busan festival.
Meanwhile, filmmaker Bela Tarr will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th Cairo Film Festival (Nov. 13-22). Tarr won the Ernest Artaria Award for “Almanac of Fall” at Locarno in 1984; FIPRESCI Prize and Best Director award for “Satantango” (1994) at Faro Island Film Festival; and, in 2005, his “Damnation” (1988), received the France Culture Award at Cannes. He also received several awards from Berlin, including the Caligari Film Award for “Satantango” (1994), the Reader Jury of the ‘Berliner Zeitung’ award for “Werckmeister Harmonies” (2000), as well as the FIPRESCI award and the Silver Bear for “The Turin Horse” (2011).
Production has commenced on action-drama Canal+ original series “Spinners” (8 x 50′) in Cape Town, South Africa. The English/Kaaps/Afrikaans-language series, a co-production between African streaming service Showmax and Canal+, revolves around the popular and dangerous South African motor sport of Spinning, which sees cars driven at high speed with drivers performing stunts in and out of the vehicle. The cast includes Cast includes Cantona James, Chelsea Thomas, Brendon Daniels and Dillon Windvogel. The show is directed by Jaco Bouwer (2021 SXSW winner “Gaia”), produced by Joachim Landau and Raphaël Rocher for Empreinte Digitale and co-produced by Ramadan Suleman for Natives at Large. Landau also co-created alongside showrunner Benjamin Hoffman and writers include Matthew Jankes, Sean Steinberg, Gillian Breslin, Daniel Zimbler, Byron Abrahams and Zoë Laband.
Studiocanal handles international distribution.
Content aggregator Legend Media will distribute five Banijay Rights titles exclusively across China, including factual series “Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty” (13 x 30’), from Oxford Scientific Films, which continues the saga of survival revolving around three families of meerkats; and “The Supervet: Noel Fitzpatrick Specials,” produced by Blast! Films for Channel 4 in the U.K., which follows orthopaedic neurosurgeon Professor Noel Fitzpatrick as he leads a team of 200 vets, nurses, and physiotherapists to provide hope for animals who are inseparable members of their families.
AXN AND ANIMAX IN MONGOLIA
Entertainment channel AXN Asia and anime specialist Animax are to launch in Mongolia following a deal between channel operator KC Global Media and Bomanbridge Media for Mobicom Corporation and Mobinet, the largest mobile phone operator and communication service provider in the country. AXN subscribers will access pay-TV exclusive movies including global box office hits “Venom: Let There be Carnage,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife.” The channel also offers first and exclusive premiering hit series, such as “FBI,” “FBI: Most Wanted,” “FBI: International,” and “NCIS: Hawai’i.” All content from Animax, such as “Gintama” and “Legend of Galactic Heroes,” will be streamed in original Japanese audio and accompanied with English subtitles. – Patrick Frater
Shaw Studios, the once mighty film studio, has launched the Shaw Creative Hub, a collaborative platform in Hong Kong dedicated to nurturing local filmmakers and independent content production companies, within its Tseung Kwan O complex. Hub members will have access to 13,000 sq ft of facilities including multi-functional spaces, conference rooms, post-production facilities, a green-screen studio, audio mixing and a VO room. New standing sets include a Chinese tea house and a British-style library. The hub is operated by Ivy Wong, founder of VS Media and has connections with the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Baptist University’s Academy of Film. – Patrick Frater
Shanghai Film Co., one of China’s largest entertainment groups, has struck a strategic partnership with Art Tokyo Global, a Singapore-based firm that is a major exhibition and event organizer. The venture aims to create digital art works, content and location-based entertainment leveraging the assets of both companies. Among the partnership’s first projects is making digital collectibles from “SHIP,” a 70-minute film that wrapped production in July and which they describe as Asia’s first NFT art film. – Patrick Frater
Warner Bros. Discovery GSA EVP and general manager Hannes Heyelmann, who was appointed last June, has now set his management team for Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
It includes Matthias Heinze looking after distribution and partnerships, Marion Rathmann responsible for programming FTA, pay entertainment channels and streaming offers, Susanne Reiter overseeing marketing and local creative services, Steffen Schier looking over theatrical distribution, Markus Spangler on ad sales and media planning, Daniela Allgayer-Koreimann looking aftercommunications and events and Magdalena Prosteder overseeing local theatrical productions. – K.J. Yossman