In a recent study conducted by Sky marking the one-year anniversary Sky Documentaries, two in five Brits admit to watching more documentaries over the last 12 months than ever before. With those numbers in mind, the broadcaster has unveiled five new original commissions and released a first trailer for its highly anticipated upcoming docuseries “Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie,” announcing that the series will premiere on Sky Crime and streaming service Now on Sunday, June 20.
“Murder at the Cottage” is produced, directed and features six-time Oscar nominated director Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot,” “In the Name of The Father”), who spent more than a decade documenting the 25-year-old case of French film and TV producer Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, wife of filmmaker Daniel Toscan du Plantier, who was murdered at her holiday home in Schull, West Cork.
New documentaries announced by Sky include:
“Mother Teresa: For the Love of God?”, a look at the polarizing story of one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures, co-produced by Minnow Films and Sky Studios.
“The Three Lives of Michael X” (working title) is produced by BBC Studios in association with Sky Studios and offers up the seldom told story of Michael X, otherwise known as Michael De Freitas or Michael Abdul Malik, a once leading civil rights activist who was eventually tried, convicted and executed for murder.
“Queen of Speed” is the story of Michèle Mouton, a woman driver who steered her way to the top in the male-dominated world of auto-racing in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Drum Studios produces in association with Sky Studios.
From RAW and Sky Studios, “Right to Fight” shines a light on pioneers of women’s boxing in the ‘70s. BAFTA award-winner Georgina Cammalleri (“Gun No 6”) directs.
Curve Media produces “The Scream,” a detailed look at the daring heist to steal Edward Munch’s iconic painting “The Scream.”
Netflix has announced a new $500,000 hardship fund to support the Arab film and TV community in territories most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund segues from a support effort launched in Lebanon last year by the streaming giant in collaboration with the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC) which is also on board for this second round. The fund will provide financial support in the form of individual grants ($2,000 per grant) to below-the-line crew, craftspeople and freelancers who are active in the television and/or film industry in the Arab region, and who have faced economic hardship over the past year.
Members of the Arab film community can apply for the fund through an online application detailing the most recent projects they have worked on, references, an overview of any other emergency support that they have received and a description of challenges they’ve faced. The fund is open to all Arab nationalities anywhere in the region, apart from Lebanese and Arab film and TV workers who are based in Lebanon. – Nick Vivarelli
London’s Eagle Eye Drama has kicked off production on “Hotel Portofino,” its first ever original commission. A 1920’s-set historical drama, the series is headed to PBS Distribution in North America, ITV/BritBox in the U.K., Foxtel in Australia and Sky Italia. Pitched as a “whodunit” family drama, “Hotel Portofino” was created and written by Matt Baker and is directed by Adam Wimpenny (“Blackwood”), produced by Julie Baines (Four Kids and It) and executive produced by Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino. It is produced in cooperation with the BetaFilm Group, which also handles global sales. Key casting includes Natascha McElhone (“Ronin,” “Halo”), Mark Umbers (“Home Fires”) and Anna Chancellor (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”) as a Brit family abroad. It also features Italian actors Daniele Pecci (“Orgoglio”), Lorenzo Richelmy (“Marco Polo”) and relative newcomer Rocco Fasano (“Skam” Italia).
Jason Watkins (“The Crown”), Victoria Hamilton (“Scoop”), George MacKay (“1917”) and Jerome Flynn (“Game of Thrones”) will star in BBC One’s upcoming conspiracy thriller “The Trick,” based on the 2009 Cilmategate scandal. Vox Pictures (“Keeping Faith”) will produce the series from Bafta-nominated screenwriter Owen Sheers (“Aberfan: The Green Hollow”), with Pip Broughton (“Keeping Faith”) directing. Adrian Bate is producing on behalf of Vox Pictures and Ben Irving will executive produce for the BBC.
The 2021 edition of the BFI London Film Festival (Oct. 6-17) will be based across two hubs – one at flagship venue BFI Southbank and the adjoining Royal Festival Hall; the other at London’s iconic West End, where venue partners have yet to be named. As revealed by Variety, former festival opener host the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square is unlikely to return as a flagship venue.
This year’s festival will back some of the hybrid elements from the 2020 edition, with a selected program available at U.K.-wide cinema partners and a range of films screening on streamer BFI Player alongside the in-cinema premieres. Special events and screen talks will be available digitally to audiences internationally. – Naman Ramachandran
Channel 4 in the U.K. has appointed Nevine Mabro as its new commissioning editor for news and current affairs, and Joanna Potts as its new dispatches editor. Both editors will report to Channel 4 head of news, current affairs and sport, Louisa Compton. Marbo will shift from her current role as deputy editor and executive producer of “Unreported World.” In 2019, she produced Channel 4’s Oscar-nominated feature documentary “For Sama,” from filmmakers Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. Potts’ credits include several productions which have affected real world change including “ISIS: The British Women Supporters Unveiled,” exposing secret meetings of ISIS sympathizers connected to hate preacher Anjem Choudary; “Bupa Care Homes Undercover,” a British Journalism Award-winner for exposing mistreatment of care home residents; and “Exposure: The Sham Marriage Racket,” which led to several criminal prosecutions.
Cinesite London has named Antony Bluff as an executive producer, joining the company’s leadership team where he will oversee daily operations and work with clients during and after VFX provision. Bluff will be based out of the company’s London offices and service Cinesite’s U.S. and international film, TV and VOD clients. His 25-year career includes VFX credits on productions such as “Muppet Treasure Island” and season two of “A Discovery of Witches,” as well as the Emmy-winning HBO mini-series “Generation Kill.”
Arri has opened its new, state-of-the-art mixed reality studio in the West London suburb of Uxbridge, and is available for hire to productions in the U.K. The LED powered stage was created with equipment supplier Creative Technology and ranks as one of Europe’s largest virtual stages, comprising nearly 3,700 square feet of LED wall.