International Insider: Fall Festivals Bring The Buzz; San Sebastian & London Previews; Jean-Paul Belmondo Obit; HBO Max Euro Launch
Happy Friday International Insiders. Tom Grater in the hot-seat delivering a rundown of the week’s top international news. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
Andreas reports: It has been a unique start to the fall festival season. Rarely, if ever, can I recall so many movies out of Venice’s first week and the early days of Telluride getting so many positive reviews. It’s not only the ‘Oscar movies’ either. Plenty of arthouse European movies have found favour too. Why might that be? There are multiple factors potentially at play. One is that we may be experiencing a happy coincidence and confluence of quality movies. Another explanation might be that we’re experiencing a bottleneck with more movies for festivals to choose from due to the pandemic holdups. Yet another theory is that critics who have been holed up in their homes like the rest of us are erring on the generous side in their excitement to be back at festivals and in their eagerness to support independent filmmaking. A final view I’ve seen posited is that we’re living through a time when writers are more afraid than ever of being cancelled on social media or struck off interview lists for negative reactions to movies. Either way, we’ve seen a glut of strong notices at the outset of the fall season, which has ramped up the awards chatter. Movies including The Power Of The Dog, Spencer, King Richard, Belfast and Cmon Cmon are generating conversation (the final three debuted at Telluride).
Lido love: Venice once again proved itself to be a glamorous and hospitable launchpad for major movies. The joy to be back on the Lido among industry and media alike was almost palpable. And yet, it wasn’t all roses. The festival also had to contend with ticketing issues this year. You can hear more about the behind-the-scenes of this year’s event in our exclusive interview with artistic director Alberto Barbera.
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On to TIFF: Attention now turns to Toronto, which will host a larger in-person presence than last year. While the festival contains a high-volume of anticipated films, the unofficial TIFF market is looking less shiny than in recent years. Buyers I’ve spoken to have noted the lack of splashy new packages, with agency sources telling me the dearth was always likely given this year’s proximity to the re-arranged Cannes market. There have however been a handful of eye-catching packages, including the Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Helen Mirren and Danny DeVito-starring Sniff; Nicolas Cage’s first western The Old Way; the Asia Argento-fronted Interstate; and all-star Golden Age comedy Mr. Shaw Goes To Hollywood. Catch up on our Toronto coverage here.
The Festival Circuit Continues
Spanish view: Venice and Toronto may be ongoing, but the international festival circuit continues at pace. On the near horizon is Spain’s primary film event, San Sebastian. Today, we caught up with festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos to go over the plans for this year. There are numerous highlights in the event’s program, including the international premiere of Chinese epic One Second, Javier Bardem comedy The Good Boss, and new films from top Spanish filmmakers Paco Plaza and Luis Tosar. We discuss these in our interview, as well as the controversy over San Sebastian’s decision to give an honorary prize to Johnny Depp.
London calling: The BFI London Film Festival unveiled its program this week, with highlights including the world premiere of animation Ron’s Gone Wrong and the European debut of episodes one and two of Succession season three in the event’s new TV strand. Shortly after the launch, we chatted to director Tricia Tuttle about how the fest is shaping up this year.
Farewell To Jean-Paul Belmondo
New Wave icon: The European film industry bid farewell this week to one of its greats, Jean-Paul Belmondo, the French actor who was a consistent and beloved figure on the big and small screen. One of Belmondo’s first leading roles was in Jean-Luc Godard’s debut feature Breathless, which was one of the parts to cement the actor as a key figure in the French New Wave movement, a legacy that will endure long after his passing. Read our obit.
HBO To The Max
Global rollout: After WarnerMedia announced last week that its premium streamer HBO Max was going to enter a host of new international territories across this year and next, the studio went one step further this week and confirmed an October 26 launch for six European territories. “This is a historic moment as HBO Max lands in Europe,” said Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International. “WarnerMedia movies and series like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory are passionately consumed by fans all across Europe, and HBO Max has been created to provide them with the most intuitive and convenient viewing experience to watch these and a diverse range of other amazing titles.” Read more.
Pact Reports Reveal Pandemic Impact
Tough times: UK producer reps Pact published two new reports this week that show the extent of the impact this pandemic has had on the country’s indie production sector. The sector recorded a 14% drop in revenue last year, and the figures show an increasing reliance on the global streamers. “It may take many years for the industry to build back to where it was prior to the pandemic,” said PACT’s John McVay. Go deeper.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Christopher Nolan is working on a new movie about J. Robert Oppenheimer’s role in the development of the atom bomb during WWII. Check out Mike’s scoop.
🌶️ Another one: Japanese action star Rina Takeda, Korean actress and model Go Joon-hee, Hong Kong actress Wiyona Yeung, and Singaporean actors Desmond Tan and Rebecca Lim are in discussions to join Hong Kong zombie movie Chungking Mansions.
🍿 International box office: Disney/Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings outperformed expectations at the global and international box office this weekend, coming in with $56.2M for the standard overseas frame. Read Nancy’s full box office report.
🚚 On the move: Grey Seal Media, the London-based film and TV consultancy, has hired Luke Hill, former partner at law firm Sheridans.
🏆 Awards circuit: Kosovo became the latest country to select its International Oscar contender this week, choosing Hive.
🎦 Trailer watch: The Matrix 4 debuted its trailer this week.
Andreas Wiseman contributed to this week’s International Insider.
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