RINGING KOREA’S GRAND BELL
“Concrete Utopia,” South Korea’s Oscar contender, was Wednesday named best film at the country’s annual Grand Bell Awards. It also won prizes for best actor, best supporting actress, art direction, sound mixing and visual effects. A disaster movie set in a devastated Seoul, it makes an unusual Academy Awards selection, but has gained high praise from reviewers. Variety this week said the film felt like “’Earthquake’ crossed with ‘Lord of the Flies’.”
The Grand Bell’s best director award nevertheless went to Ryoo Seung-wan for “Smugglers,” while Ahn Tae-jin took the best new director award for “The Night Owl.”
In the other half of the event, Disney+’s “Moving” was named best series, earning Han Hyo-joo the best series actress award to boot.
The Grand Bell Awards, aka Daejong Film Awards, are organized by The Motion Pictures Association of Korea.
The CineAsia convention to be held Dec. 4-7 in Bangkok has added Benny Suherman, founder and CEO of Indonesian theatre chain Cinema XXI, to its list of award winners. He will receive the CineAsia Icon Award. As of September, Cinema XXI operated 1,250 screens in 232 cinema locations across 56 cities throughout Indonesia.
He joins other honorees including Eugene Yang of Paramount Pictures International as distributor of the year, Siddharth Roy Kapur as Asia-Pacific Copyright Educator of the Year, Javier Sotomayor of Cinepolis as Exhibitor of the Year, Wanda Cinemas as winner of the CineAsia Showmanship Award and Huanxi Media’s Zhang Yimou-directed “Full River Red” as Comscore APAC Box Office Achievement Award winner.
Indian streaming giant JioCinema has unveiled a major move into the kids’ entertainment sector. At launch, the new section contains some 3,000 hours of content aimed at age groups from tiny tots to pre-teens. This follows content supply agreements with suppliers including Cartoon Network Studios, Dreamworks, EOne, The Pokémon Company and Animaccord as well as sister company Viacom 18.
Shows include “Motu Patlu,” “Shiva,” “Rudra,” “Chikoo aur Bunty,” “Pinaki and the Bhoot Bandhus,” “The Twisted Timelines of Sammy & Raj,” “Kanha – Morpankh Samrat,” “Harry Potter,” “Transformers,” “HBO Storybook musical,” “The Looney Tunes Show,” “Super Mario Bros,” “Justice League War World,” “Garfield,” “Tin Tin,” “Trollstopia,” “Zig & Shark,” “Peppa Pig” and “Pokémon” and movies including “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar,” “Teen Titans Go,” “Polar Express,” “Lego Ninjago,” “The Flintstones” and “Boss Baby.”
HONG KONG MUSIC
Universal Music Greater China (UMGC) has appointed respected entertainment industry executive Gary Chan, as MD of Universal Music Hong Kong and senior VP of UMGC, effective immediately. He will be based in Hong Kong and will report directly to Timothy Xu, chairman and CEO of UMGC. Chan joins UMGC from Media Asia Group Holdings, where he served as executive director for 15 years, managing operations across Asia and its portfolio of over fifty iconic artists, including Andy Lau, Sammi Cheng, Leon Lai, and Miriam Yeung.
He also helped foster breakthrough talents including Khalil Fong, Fiona Sit, Endy Chow, Pakho Chau, Shine, and deepened collaborations between Hong Kong and Taiwan to successfully develop acts such as Eric Moo, Cheung Yu and Jeff Cheung.
NORTHERN IRELAND COMMISSIONS
The BBC has commissioned five new unscripted programs as part of a Hot House initiative, with support from Northern Ireland Screen. The programs, which are co-commissioned for BBC Factual and BBC Northern Ireland, will be broadcast to audiences in Northern Ireland and across the U.K. on BBC network and BBC NI television.
The five successful indies were Below The Radar, DoubleBand Films, Stellify Media, Alleycats Films and Walk On Air Films. They include a 15-part series for BBC Daytime featuring “MasterChef’s” Anna Haugh, a six-part series on competing to become an art dealer, single documentaries exploring motorcycle racing and first holy communions and an entertainment ‘reality game show’ pilot.
Each of these independent production companies were given £50,000 ($62,000) development funding from the BBC. They were then able to apply for match-funding from Northern Ireland Screen. They were further invited to present their network television proposals at the end of the five-month development period for network commissioning consideration.
FIRST FILM FUNDING
The Hong Kong Film Development Council reports a large leap in the number of applications for its First Feature Film Initiative. It received 13 from the higher education sector and 58 from the professionals group. That compares with 49 in total the previous time the funding was available. The FFFI identifies new talent through a competition on screenplay and production proposals. The maximum sponsorship for each winning production team of the higher education and the professionals are $5 million ($640,000) and $8 million ($1.03 million) respectively. The Film Development Fund provides funding for the winning teams to implement their film proposals and make their first commercial feature films.