Welcome to the latest edition of International Insider. This week we’re looking forward to Toronto International Film Festival, which began yesterday, and closing the book on Venice, which ends tomorrow. We also cover a serious incident on the set of Geechee in the Dominican Republic, and remember Diana Rigg, who died yesterday at the age of 82.
TORONTO HEATS UP
Early buzz: This is a fall festival season like no other. Toronto, usually a movie banquet, got underway in relatively subdued fashion this week with few international attendees and a much reduced lineup. Among the movies generating pre-premiere buzz are Mark Wahlberg starrer Good Joe Bell, Idris Elba pic Concrete Cowboy and Naomi Watts movie Penguin Bloom. Read our full coverage here.
International Insider: Venice Dispatches; ‘Cuties’ Controversy; ‘Tenet’ Tops Expectations
For sale: The ‘virtual’ pre-sales market includes a handful of hot prospects, including Miramax’s Jason Statham-Guy Ritchie pic Five Eyes, which we can reveal today has sold in a big deal to Germany, FilmNation’s Holocaust drama One Life with Anthony Hopkins, and starry Brady Corbet pic The Brutalist. The fall festivals are doing the best they can in extremely trying circumstances but it’s clear there’s no substitute for boots on the ground. After the apparent success of Venice, will more festivals be emboldened to ditch the hybrid model in favour of physical events?
‘GEECHEE’ SHOOTING INCIDENT
Gun attack: Late on Sunday, we broke the news that an incident has taken place on the set of Geechee, an AGC Studios project starring Andrea Riseborough that was filming at Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios. The full details of what transpired are still being established, but what we do know is that crew vehicles were attacked by gun men twice on Wednesday (September 2), with one crew member being shot multiple times. The attackers are said to have been undercover drug police and the incident is being described as a case of mistaken identity.
The fallout: Those involved were badly shaken up and the production was fully shutdown. The crew member who was shot was taken to hospital for treatment and was released with what are understood to be minor injuries. Cast and crew were flown back home in the subsequent days and a full investigation is being launched. At present, it is now known when or where the film could resume production.
That’s a wrap (almost): We were on the ground this week at the Venice Film Festival, the world’s first major film fest in the COVID era. Industry and press we spoke to were largely thrilled to be at the event. On Sunday we sat down with artistic director Alberto Barbera to discuss the festival’s COVID protocols, the likelihood of gender-neutral awards, which movie has the best shot at the Oscars and whether the studios will be back next year. Go deeper.
The buzz: Later in the week, we heard more from Barbera about the cost of the festival’s COVID protocols. As for the movies, despite lacking in studio fare, there was no shortage of well-received titles. While there were no Joker juggernauts or Roma raves, this was a well-appreciated roster of independent movies with films like The Duke, One Night In Miami, The World To Come, Quo Vadis, Aida and Apples among the best-received.
REMEMBERING DIANA RIGG
Stage to screen: Rest in peace Diana Rigg, who passed away this week at the age of 82. Known for her roles across theater, TV and film, Rigg had a glittering career encompassing seven decades. Rigg began acting in theater before she landed the part of Emma Peel in Brit spy series The Avengers in the 1960s. The part catapulted her to stardom, and in 1969 she took the role of Tracy Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring opposite George Lazenby. Read our full obituary here.
“Blazingly talented”: Tributes swiftly poured in for Rigg, including from her fellow Game Of Thrones cast members. “She always raised the bar with her incredible talent, intelligence and wit,” said Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Edgar Wright, who directed Rigg in her final movie role, his forthcoming One Night In Soho, added, “I could talk about her incredible career, but for now I’ll just say as a lifelong fan, it was beyond a thrill to work with her on her final film”. Lazenby also posted a statement remembering his Bond co-star.
BEST OF THE REST
‘Mulan’ controversy: It’s been a bumpy landing for Disney’s Mulan. The studio is yet to release any viewing statistics, so there’s no way of knowing how successful putting the film directly on Disney+ has been. However, Mulan received heavy criticism this week for filming in the Xinjiang province, where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps. Senator Josh Hawley felt strongly enough about it to pen a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
Germany’s TV talent: Germany has emerged as a key European producer of TV for steaming services, with Netflix in particular finding success with the likes of Dark and Unorthodox. This week, Deadline sat down with three key TV creators from the country to get an insight into their work. You can watch highlights from the panel here.
MIPCOM Off: The latest event to fall in the era of COVID-related cancellations is international TV market MIPCOM, which has officially canned its physical fest in favor of an online edition. Organizers were already facing a significant challenge after several major companies had pulled out.
Busan postpones: Major Asian film event Busan International Film Festival has delayed two weeks as the country grapples with a spike in virus infections. The fest is going to focus on screenings, with most industry activity online. International delegates will not be invited.
Key Berlinale EFM hire: We had the scoop this week on the new head of the European Film Market, one of the key international film events on the calendar. The 2021 edition will be a challenge for the new chief, who will have to navigate likely ongoing pandemic disruption. At present, the event is planning for physical and online components.