Welcome back to another edition of International Insider. This week, you’ve got me, Jesse Whittock, taking you through the big stories from beyond the U.S. shores.
Luring them in: Indian TV production is one of the big, developing international narratives of 2022, and the country is desperate to attract more overseas players to its shores following a difficult pandemic. Our Contributing Editor for Asia, Liz Shackleton, took a deep dive into a new 30% cash rebate that the country’s Information & Broadcasting Ministry has rolled out over recent months. Here’s the science bit: the incentive will reimburse up to 30% of qualifying expenditure up to about INR20M ($260,000). An additional 5% (INR5M/$65,000) can be accessed for productions with larger Indian crews. To be eligible, productions must get I&B approval and spend a minimum INR25M ($325,000). There are several other caveats, but Liz explains it better than I can, so read on here. Sources say the (relatively moderate) incentive will be helpful for indie projects looking for the final financial piece of the jigsaw. As is often the case, nothing is completely straightforward in India and several fine points still aren’t clear — including how each project is assessed, how long the rebate will take to come through and script approvals, plus everyday logistical problems for international productions. But make no mistake: India is going international and you’ll be seeing a lot more of this beautiful country on a big or small screen very soon.
Also in Asia: Liz reported on the 29 projects selected for this year’s Asian Project Market (AMP) at the Busan International Film Festival. New works from Thailand’s Aditya Assarat, China’s Wang Qi, Vietnam’s Le Bao and Myanmar’s Maung Sun, whose producing partner Ma Aeint is currently in jail, sentenced to three years’ hard labor by the country’s hard-line military junta. Ma Aeint is still attached as a producer on Maung Sun’s project Future Laobans and we’ll wait to see how things develop. For a full list of APM selections, click here.
Under Korean Management
From ‘Squid Game’ to super-agent: Soyoung Lee is a South Korean talent agent you need on your radar. Founder of one of the nation’s largest agencies, Saram Entertainment, she is the face behind the company that represents Squid Game star Hoyeon, Kinha Kim from Apple TV+’s Pachinko and Yeri Han from Academy Award-nominated Minari. As Netflix’s Squid Game has taken over the entertainment world, and its biggest stars sign with the major U.S. agencies, Soyoung has been quietly looking after the interests of her bulging book of Korean stars. Contrary to losing her clients to stateside rivals, she told Max in a wide-ranging interview that she even believes the explosion of Korean TV means she could eventually be finding U.S. actors work in her country. What a truly intriguing turnaround for TV and film that would be. With Paramount Global head honcho Bob Bakish recently pointing to Korea as a key territory for Paramount+, and content budgets in the country up significantly, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.
On Location In Locarno
On the ‘Bullet Train’: Over to Zac Ntim, who wrote this missive after a trip to Switzerland’s fashionable film festival. Locarno attracted big crowds and big stars for its 75th edition, which kicked off last week with a lengthy opening ceremony followed by the international festival premiere of the action-comedy Bullet Train. The packed opening night celebration took place at Locarno’s famed Piazza Grande square and was a return to form for the festival after a full cancellation in 2020 and a slimmed-down version last year. Despite a mixed critical response, Bullet Train was well received by festivalgoers, who gave the film a hearty applause as it was introduced with a surprise video call from star Brad Pitt.
Award season: While Pitt didn’t quite make it to Locarno in person, his co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson passed through the Piazza, where he was presented with the festival’s Davide Campari Excellence Award. Shows what just turning up can do for you. In fact, Taylor-Johnson was the first of several high-profile names who touched down at the festival to receive awards, along with Jason Blum, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Matt Dillon, who picked up the festival’s lifetime achievement award, an honor that he told Deadline comes with a comical balance of positives and negatives. “I’m too young,” he joked. “But I do this because hopefully there’s some director here that’s gonna say, ‘Good job,’ because I’m only as good as the directors I work with.” The festival has yet to hand out awards for its official competition section but German filmmaker Lukas Nathrath picked up the top prize in the First Look sidebar for unfinished projects with debut feature One Last Evening. The prize comes with €50,000 ($51,500) in post-production services from Swiss and Germany-based production house Cinegrell. The festival ends Monday. For more Locarno coverage, read here.
Johnny is Louis: Johnny Depp finally made a headline this week that had absolutely nothing to do with his ongoing court drama. Melanie secured this great scoop unveiling a first look at Depp as France’s King Louis XV in director Maïwenn’s historical love story Jeanne du Barry. Social media predictably exploded as news of the image, which shows a side profile of a heavily made-up Depp, spread like wildfire. Production company Why Not also confirmed shooting on the film began quietly on July 26, with the resulting feature marking Depp’s first movie role in three years and comes soon after he won his wild, turbulent and often disturbing defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. Read Mel’s full story here.
Racism Rife In UK TV & Film
Damning report: In Britain, there is much talk of how the film and TV industry can eradicate – or at least begin to truly tackle – racism. Sadly, many feel those words are rarely backed by action and a Bectu survey released this week found that 61% of ethnic minority respondents were experiencing racism at work. Similar numbers had witnessed racism and/or said it had impacted career progression. The systems to report incidents of racism were found to be wholly ineffective and there was an overwhelming lack of confidence in broadcasters and unions’ ability to deal with complaints. Genuinely depressing stuff. “It is now the job of industry leaders to listen to our demands and formulate a racism reporting body,” said Bectu Head Philippa Childs. “It is not too late to tackle racism in broadcasting, and we will maintain pressure until we see real progress.” With the Edinburgh Television Festival just around the corner, the time for real action is now. Read on for more.
Lars Von Trier’s Diagnosis
“In good spirits”: Sad news as Lars Von Trier’s long-time producer Louise Vesth revealed the Oscar-nominated, Cannes Palme d’Or winning director has Parkinson’s Disease. The diagnosis was made public “to avoid speculation” leading up to the premiere of Von Trier’s upcoming series The Kingdom Exodus, which was unveiled as a TIFF Primetime Program selection Wednesday. Von Trier will continue working on the show and Vesth said the Dane is “in good spirits and being treated for his symptoms.” Deadline wishes him well.
🌶️ Hot one: Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) will play Hollywood royalty Cary Grant in a drama biopic for ITV and BritBox International, Max wrote Monday.
🌶️ Another one: Baz scored a scoop by revealing 61st Street star Tosin Cole has landed the lead in Blue Story creator Rapman’s Netflix series Supacell.
🌶️ A third one: Season two of The Capture, erm, captured the coveted August Bank Holiday slot on BBC One in the UK previously occupied by ratings smashes Bodyguard and Vigil.
🧑💼 New job: Former Bron Studios exec David Davoli joins Anonymous Content as President of International. Andreas broke this one.
🎤Address: British news broadcasting heavyweight Emily Maitlis will deliver the influential James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival later this month.
🤝 Done deal: Nancy was first with the news Universal International Pictures has struck a deal that will see Majid At Fattaim Distribution release its movies in Saudia Arabia and other GCC countries.
🏆 Awards latest: Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave will represent Korea in next year’s International Feature category at the Oscars, a first-time opportunity for the acclaimed auteur.
🏆 Box office: Alia Bhatt’s domestic violence dark comedy Darlings secured Netflix’s highest global opening for a non-English Indian film, per Caroline Frost.
🇺🇦 Ukraine 1: Max revealed Academy Award-nominated producer Den Tolmor is creating a feature based on a Canadian ‘lone wolf’ sniper who battled the Russians in the first months of the invasion, tentatively titled The Good Fight.
🇺🇦 Ukraine 2: An anthology series documenting the early days of the Russian invasion, Those Who Stayed, is forthcoming from Red Arrow International Studios and FILM.UA.
🇺🇦 Ukraine 3: I reported that the Organization of Ukrainian Producers had finished shooting its latest film from inside the war-torn country, in the shape of doc Mariupol. Unlost Hope.
Max Goldbart and Zac Ntim contributed to this week’s International Insider
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