International Insider: Sarajevo Nights; Edinburgh TV Fest Rolls Around; Michael Parkinson Remembered

Afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart bringing you another dose of this here weekly roundup. We’ll be taking a break next week for the August bank holiday but will be back in your inboxes in a fortnight for the new term. In the meantime, sign up here.

Sarajevo Nights

Sarajevo Film Festival

Kaufmanesque: Zac Ntim here reporting on an interesting week in the Bosnian capital… The city’s festival kicked off last Friday with a screening of the U2-inspired Bosnian war documentary Kiss The Future, with U2 frontman Bono making a surprise appearance alongside The Edge and CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, who also features in the doc. On the ground, the focus quickly shifted toward the festival’s first of three honorary award recipients, writer-director Charlie Kaufman. Sporting a grey WGA-branded ‘strike’ t-shirt, Kaufman led a packed-out masterclass at the fest where he shared some strong opinions about the state of Hollywood. “At this point, the only thing that makes money is garbage. It’s just fascinating. It makes a fortune, and that’s the bottom line,” Kaufman opined, not holding back. The Being John Malkovich writer, who won the career achievement at last year’s WGA awards, moved on to the current writers strike, telling the audience that the wider discussion around the WGA’s “AI issue” is that “writers have been trained to eat and make the garbage too,” meaning they indulge in and create work that he described as lacking creative ambition and humanity. Charlie does not mince his words.

Tragedy: Away from the festival’s high-profile visitors, the official comp kicked into gear but was paused Wednesday morning when fest organizers canceled all screenings and social gatherings set to take place. This was because Bosnia had entered a day of national mourning following a high-profile triple murder-suicide in the country’s Northeastern region. The last minute pause was promptly followed by a political firestorm involving Benjamina Karic, the Mayor of Sarajevo, who called for the resignation of the festival programers that had allowed Heroes of Halyard — a World War II drama that she described as a revisionist account of Serbian nationalist groups — to screen as part of Sarajevo’s industry forum. The festival later apologized and said it would be implementing more robust selection processes to the screening program in future. In the way of gongs, the Serbian comedy Mom and Dad Are Playing War 2 (Tata Se Igraju Rata 2) and the Bosnian drama The Hollow (Kotlina) swept the Heart Of Sarajevo TV Awards, both taking six gongs on the night. The festival’s film awards will be announced tonight, as the festival concludes.

UK TV World Descends On Edinburgh

The Scottish (TV) fest: TV producers, commissioners, commentators and all and sundry are preparing in droves to head to the Scottish city of Edinburgh next week for the annual TV Festival. The yearly gathering of British TV’s great-and-good comes at a tricky time for the local industry, with the global economic downturn denting broadcaster budgets and the U.S. strikes wreaking havoc on UK scripted schedules, given how globalized the sector has become. But never fear, as there is always an air of positivity about the Edinburgh gathering. Usual suspects from the broadcasters are lined up to deliver their annual commissioner sessions, with execs from streamers Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ all out in full force. Meanwhile, on the talent side, MacTaggart lecturer Louis Theroux is the year’s big draw and attendees can look forward to musings on the “reasons for both fear and optimism in a world beset by populism,” amongst other things, from everyone’s favourite documentarian. He will deliver the headline-grabbing annual address Wednesday night, a couple of days before keynotes from Succession auteur Jesse Armstrong and Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright, while the oft-fun Alternative MacTaggart (previous deliverers include Russell Brand and Jerry Springer) comes from Goodness Gracious Me star Meera Syal. Myself, Jesse and Jake will all be heading to Scotland on Tuesday (and Zac will be there for the Film Fest) and we’ll have non-stop reporting for you throughout the week. Stay tuned.

Korean Box Office Drama

Records and referrals: Big week for the South Korean box office with accusations of tampering with numbers on local movies, and a record-breaking Oppenheimer figure emerging the same day. According to local reports, police in the nation referred 69 Korean exhibition and distribution executives to prosecutors over obstruction of business. An investigation lasting several weeks found the accused to have been involved in fabricating figures to boost film rankings over the past five years, police allege. This came some two months after police raided the major exhibitors and the offices of three film distributors on suspicion of box office manipulation and allegations they had obstructed the business of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) by falsely counting audience numbers for some local films. The titles allegedly inflated were action thriller Emergency Declaration (2021), romantic drama Endless Rain (2021) and last year’s documentary The Red Herring — all of which are Korean productions. Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer hit a $4.3M record for the director in the nation on an opening day, capturing 44% market share for that day in what we all know is a highly competitive environment. Even though it had a wider release, Oppenheimer still managed to beat Tenet‘s opener from 2020, although, granted, that movie came out during the pandemic. Oppenheimer‘s day one was the biggest Hollywood opener of the year in Korea and came in second across all titles.

African Cinema

An aerial view of the Independence Avenue, Accra. Ghana.

“Cinema’s greatest opportunity”: Execs and global TV and film lovers alike should be paying attention to happenings in Africa at present. The continent’s industry is expanding at pace and will be helped along by news Zac brought you exclusively on Wednesday that an inaugural African Cinema Summit will take place later this year in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. Key highlights of the event will include a showcase of contemporary African films alongside industry-focused sessions such as tailored business matchmaking events, panel discussions, keynote speeches by African industry leaders and dedicated networking sessions for visitors. Organizers believe the summit is one of the first continent-wide gatherings dedicated to cinema and it comes with opportunites aplenty, especially with some more established markets faltering. According to Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante, the CEO of the National Film Authority of Ghana, “Africa is cinema’s greatest opportunity in the 21st century.” The news comes with the streamers delving deeper into the continent, striking talent deals with top auteurs, hiring local commissioners and diverting budgets, while Idris Elba and Mo Abudu recently unveiled a “landmark initiative” to “empower and uplift talent from Africa and the Diaspora.”

Michael Parkinson Remembered

Chat show king: Thoughts go out to the family of British chat show king Sir Michael Parkinson this week, who has died aged 88. The much-loved host was a fixture on British screens for five decades. By his own account, he interviewed around 2,000 people, with an enviable list of past superstars including Muhammed Ali, Tom Cruise, Elton John, Madonna and Robert De Niro gracing the Parkinson chair. From the 1970s until just a few years ago, Parkinson was a household name, and millions tuned in each week to watch his light touch yet under-the-skin approach to getting the most out of his many subjects. He elicited many a moment, with this handy round-up Jake put together showcasing some of his best. Never forget his unprecedented trio of sitdowns with boxing champ Ali, marvel at Victoria Beckham’s famous “Goldenballs” revelation and watch the way in which he set Billy Connolly’s career alight in one fell swoop. Parkinson wasn’t without controversy (scroll to the Helen Mirren interview for context) but he was a broadcasting legend, and one that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. “He defined the format for all the presenters and shows that followed,” summarized BBC Director General Tim Davie, encapsulating Parkinson’s legacy in just a few words.

The Essentials

Maria Bopp and Ícaro Silva star in Amizade Colorida, Sony International's remake of Friends with Benefits

🌶️ Hot One: Sony Pictures International Productions is remaking Friends with Benefits in Brazil.

🌶️ Another: Doctor Who‘s new star Ncuti Gatwa is to play David Copperfield in the Sam Mendes-produced Audible podcast of the Dickens classic.

🌶️  A third: Former England youth soccer player Farren Blackburn is lining up a feature on the beautiful game with the women’s world cup final approaching.

🪓 Breaking Baz: The Crown creator Peter Morgan’s play Patriots is eying a Broadway move, per the latest column from our roving International Editor-at-Large.

💰 Buyout: Working Title duo Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, along with super composer Hans Zimmer, bought London’s iconic Maida Vale Studios.

👩🏻‍💼 New boss: At Sweden’s SF Studios, which signed up ex-Jarowski head Iréne Lindblad.

🏆 Awards latest: Germany’s Oscars longlist includes Wim Wenders’ Anselm.

⛺ Festivals latest: Scotland’s Sands International Film Festival set 2024 dates.

🌊 Hot water: For the BBC, once again, with the allegations against top-paid radio presenter Stephen Nolan.

👚 Barbie: Algeria the latest to ban Box Office smash for “damaging morals.”

🤝 Done deal: For global distribution on South Africa’s longest-running gameshow of all time.

🍿 Box OfficeThe Super Mario Bros Movie became Universal’s biggest title in Japan of all time.

🎭 Drama schools latest: A Guildhall racism report found students at a drama school attended by Michaela Coel were called the N-word, per Jake’s ongoing reporting.

🚪 Shuttered: Lucasfilm’s Singaporean VFX studio, leading to a potential 300 layoffs.

🖼️ First look: At Steve Coogan playing Jimmy Savile in controversial BBC drama The Reckoning.

🎥 Trail: For Amazon Freevee’s rebooted Neighbours, which launches next month.

Zac Ntim contributed to this week’s International Insider.

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