Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. The clocks have gone back and it’s getting chilly but we’re here to warm your week with the very latest news and analysis. Read on and sign up here.
To The Med
Turkish delights: We spotlighted Turkey this week, and about time too as the country celebrates its 100th anniversary of independence. Turkish execs were out in force at Mipcom Cannes last month and we felt it was about time to examine a nation that has been churning out buzzy dramas and telenovelas for decades. Outfits such as distributor Global Agency and producer Tims & B have been at the forefront of the rise of Turkish TV in the international arena, which has continued throughout the reign of divisive leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Regions such as Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America have long been acquirers of its telenovelas, and word this year is Spanish buyers are also increasingly dipping into the pool, as Turkish series lengths fall and better match local audience tastes. For our Global Breakout, Jesse spotlighted Another Love (pictured), a project with shades of Dexter that its creators say is “far more than a telenovela.” “Given its plot and creative style, it is a drama in the real sense,” said Selin Arat, Tims & B’s Director of International Operations, and the show has been a ratings hit for Disney-owned Fox Turkey. Dive deeper here for more on Another Love.
Tims & B takes on the world: Not content with our Another Love deep dive, Diana sat down with Arat to chat about where the company is at and consider the wider market. When rival producers Timur Savcı and Burak Sağyaşar decided to join their two production outfits – Savcı’s Tims Productions and Sağyaşar’s Bi Yapım – in 2017, it marked a union of two of Turkey’s most prominent creators of television content. They have since gone about bringing heft to an already buzzy local ecosystem, introducing the world to the likes of Magnificent Century about the life and the court of Ottoman Sultan Suleyman. Arat also discussed what comes next and how Turkish producers aren’t counting their chickens as they face stiff competition from top-tier shows in Spain and Latin America.
The key to Thessaloniki: Elsewhere, Zac zoomed from Tokyo to Greece this week for the 64th edition of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, which was opened by French-Vietnamese director Trần Anh Hùng’s latest feature, The Pot-au-Feu (The Taste of Things). Across 10 days, the festival will screen 270 feature and short films, including buzzy titles such as Animal by Sophia Exarchou, Christos Nikou’s Fingernails, and In Camera by Naqqash Khalid, which all play in competition. Visitors to the fest include Alexander Payne, who will present his latest feature, The Holdovers, while Monica Bellucci is set to pass through to receive the festival’s honorary Golden Alexander for lifetime achievement. On the industry side, things kick into gear this weekend when the fest’s AGORA section opens with a selection of panels and masterclasses, including a session hosted by Canadian filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa, best known for his work on TV shows such as Station Eleven, Game of Thrones, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Zac sat down with Orestis Andreadakis, the festival’s Artistic Director, who broke down this year’s edition, Thessaloniki’s rising profile, and what’s behind the contemporary resurgence in Greek filmmaking. The festival runs until November 12. Plenty more to come from Turkey and Greece.
Packages hampered: Andreas and co have been at AFM this week, which got underway in Santa Monica in new digs (The Loews has been replaced by The Meridien Delfina). It was a noisier start than organizers would have liked, given around 100 hospitality workers staged a loud protest Wednesday outside the new venue, criticizing what they call unfair working conditions for their members, dozens of whom work at the new AFM venue. An inauspicious start to say the least. As for packages and deal-making, it has been hampered from the get-go by the ongoing SAG strike, making talent availability even harder to pin down. That said, many we’ve spoken to have been surprised at the number of projects still announced, despite the obvious challenge. Among big-ticket projects we revealed to be on sale are Lionsgate’s 100M+ Highlander reboot and Kevin Costner’s Horizon westerns. AFM has always been known primarily as a genre market and this is no different, with a number of companies bringing lower budgeted action, thriller and horror fare. Agents aren’t optimistic of many big deals going down but sellers we spoke to told us footfall remained healthy and that they still enjoy the opportunity to catch up with their key buyers. And multiple parties told us that Berlin is shaping up to be a good one. Keep your eyes on Deadline for the latest news — we have one or two packages still to drop, while our colleague Jill Goldsmith will be hosting and covering some of the finance panels and Diana is also on the ground. You can find all our coverage including a wealth of new packages here.
World Tackles AI
Elon in town: As SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP remained at loggerheads over AI, and with Joe Biden focusing attention on the big, scary tech, high-profile names including Elon Musk and Kamala Harris touched down in the UK for an inaugural Safety Summit. Taking place in Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing famously led the Allies’ World War Two code-breaking mission, the two-day event was spearheaded by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the risks of AI and how they can be mitigated through internationally coordinated action. Musk stayed on after the official ending of the conference to conduct a public conversation with Sunak, which was live-streamed on X, while the U.S. Vice President also spoke. Mel had this dispatch from a creative industries panel at AI Fringe, a parallel event running in London to expand the conversation. A key talking point was how original works have been used to train generative AI tools without the permission of the creators or provision for payment for the value created by their use. Some panelists doubted that creators could realistically stop their content being “scraped”, but Moiya McTier, an astrophysicist/folklorist (yes you read that correctly) suggested lessons could be learned from how the music sector had dealt with the disruption of streaming. As we have reported on thoroughly in recent months, AI looks set to very much play a role in the future of the global TV and film industries, and it is clear that people are taking things seriously.
‘The Crown’ Gets Closer
“Intense” moments: The highly-anticipated final season of The Crown is nearly upon us and we await with baited breath the way in which the Netflix royal hit will, amongst other things, deal with the death of Princess Diana. Teasing the scenes earlier this week was German director Christian Schwochow, who directed the three crucial Season 6 episodes featuring what are likely to be some of the most talked about moments on television this year. Christian told our roving International Editor-at-Large Baz Bamigboye that though shots were filmed of Diana, played by Elizabeth Debicki, in the Paris morgue, there was never any intention of them being included in the final edit. “I don’t know how many times I had to cry behind my monitors because it’s so incredibly intense to re-create these moments,” Christian revealed candidly. The full interview is here. And two days after Christian’s interview, Breaking Baz had this big ol’ scoop on Imelda Staunton – who plays the older Queen Elizabeth II – leading the West End revival of Broadway musical Hello, Dolly!. Imelda will be seen at the London Palladium next summer.
Israel-Gaza: Week 4
Nearly a month: It is hard to believe it has now been nearly a month since the Hamas-led October 7 massacre that has sparked one of the most brutal conflicts in a generation, with little to no end in sight. As ever we’ve brought you the latest this week including much about the international response and reaction. Over the weekend, Hollywood A-listers including Helen Mirren, seen recently as former Israeli PM Golda Meir in Guy Nattiv’s biopic Golda, Michael Douglas and Amy Schumer launched a #ReleaseTheHostagesNow campaign to raise awareness of the circa-200 Israeli civillians who remain captive in Gaza. On the same day, a consortium of French journalists called for access to Gaza to cover the situation on the ground, per Mel’s report. The conflict has been incredibly difficult to report on from inside Gaza. The BBC, meanwhile, launched an emergency service produced out of London and Cairo, which will “provide listeners in Gaza with the latest information and developments as well as safety advice on where to access shelter, food and water supplies.” The corporation launched similar services in Ukraine and Sudan in recent years, along with in Gaza during the previous conflict in 2014.
🌶️ Hot One: A24 has snapped up TV rights to Jessa Hastings‘ Magnolia Parks universe books, which went viral on TikTok.
🌶️ More heat: Pan-African Rwanda genocide drama Bisesero: A Daughter’s Story set cast.
🌶️ Still hot: A feature film about the escapades of little-known Canadian spy Winthrop Bell is in development.
🧱 Restructure: Under Warner Bros Discovery’s James Gibbons in Asia Pacific.
🖊️ Signed up: Pakistan’s In Flames director Zarrar Kahn in all areas by UTA.
🤝 Done deal: Banijay snapped up Help and The Buccaneers producer The Forge.
👨⚖️ Judge: Seth Rogen will guest judge and EP Canada’s Great Pottery Throw Down.
🌴 Survivor: Launched in the UK in line with Big Brother opener with 2.5M viewers overnight.
🌊 Hot water: The BBC was urged to take action over an “explicitly racist” Little Britain scene still available on iPlayer, following Ofcom research.
⚽ World Cup: Will be hosted in Saudi Arabia in 2034, 12 years after Qatar.
🪓 Axed: Netflix’s Wellmania – star Celeste Barber was not a happy (gym) bunny.
⛺ Festivals: Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla is closing today’s Mumbai Film Festival.
⛺ More festivals: Tibetan family drama Snow Leopard won the Tokyo Grand Prix at TIFF (not that one).
🍿 Box office: Five Nights at Freddy’s bowed globally with $131M.
🎥 Trail: For Börje – The Journey of a Legend, Viaplay’s drama about the Swedish NHL Hall of Famer.
Zac Ntim and Andreas Wiseman contributed to this week’s Insider.