In today’s Global Bulletin, “Agatha Christie’s Sven Hjerson” takes top honors at MipTV’s MipDrama; ScreenSkills launches an ambitious unscripted training program in the U.K.; San Sebastian opens the call for its Europe-Latin America co-production forum; We Are Parable plans 18 months of events to celebrate Black filmmakers in the U.K.; WarnerMedia commits ($344,650) to Sam Mendes’ Theatre Artist Fund; Channel 5 announces four new historical unscripted specials; and NewImages Festival, Cannes XR and Tribeca Festival create XR3, a virtual exhibition for VR content.

MARKETS

MipTV’s MipDrama sidebar has awarded Be-Reel Films’Agatha Christie’s Sven Hjerson” with the coveted MIPDrama – Buyers’ Coup de Cœur, the most prestigious prize at the annual Cannes-based market.

In the show, Hanna Alström plays Klara Sandberg, a former TV producer pitching a true-life crime show starring Sven Hjerson — an updated real-life version of the popular character from Agatha Christie’s oeuvre — who solves a crime each week. The new show promises to revive Sandberg’s career and personal life, except that she’s never actually met her would-be star Hjerson.

“Agatha Christie’s Sven Hjerson” was commissioned by Sweden’s TV4 and Norway’s CMore and stars Johan Rheborg (“Kenny Starfighter”) as Hjerson. It’s being distributed outside Scandinavia by ZDF Enterprises as four films or an eight-episode TV series and will premiere in the fall of 2021.

The series was developed by concept creator Patrik Gyllström and producer Patrik Andersson at Stockholm and Los Angeles-based Be-Reel Films. It’s produced by Andersson and Ulf Synnerholm at Be-Reel (“Midsommar,” “Before We Die”), and co-produced by ZDF, Nadcon and the government of Åland, in collaboration with Agatha Christie Ltd.

TRAINING

In an effort to address a shortage of skilled workers in the U.K. unscripted TV industry, ScreenSkills has launched the Unscripted TV Skills Fund. Having provided a significant upfront investment, the BBC and Channel 4 are recognized as founding investors of the program and will have approval on the prioritization of the training supported by the fund. Other key investing broadcasters that join as founding partners include Sky, A+E Networks U.K. and Discovery U.K. British trade organization Pact has been involved in developing the fund from the outset.

Unscripted TV Skills Fund aims to increase training investment from £370,000 ($510,000) to £3 million ($4.14 million) per year by 2024, with a minimum of 50% of the fund invested to support training beneficiaries based in the nations and regions, rising to 100% in specific shortage areas. Notably, the BBC and Channel 4 have specifically requested that 100% of their investment be made outside of London to aid in filling gaps in those areas. Also of note, half of the fund’s beneficiaries will meet at least one industry-recognized diversity and inclusion target.

FESTIVALS

Celebrating a decade since its launch, Spain’s San Sebastian Festival Co-Production Forum has opened the call to European and Latin American projects for this September’s get-together. Qualifying projects must be at least 60 minutes long with no less than 20% of financing already secured. European projects must also have a clear connection with Latin America.

As many as 20 selected projects will be invited to pitch this fall, as well as participate in a series of one-on-one meetings with potential producers, distributors and investors. Preparing for all contingencies, the Forum is planning both in-person and virtual versions of the meetings. Last year the Forum, held entirely online, still managed to organize nearly 500 meetings over three days.

PROMOTION

U.K. exhibition company We Are Parable is launching Who We Are, an 18-month nationwide schedule of events, screenings and experiences to celebrate Black Cinema from around the world highlighted by an April 26 drive-in screening of “Judas and The Black Messiah,” hosted in partnership with The Drive In and WarnerMedia.

Backed by the BFI and National Lottery Audience Fund, Who We Are will host screenings and events in eight regions across the U.K. and partner with local cinemas such as Manchester’s Home, Bristol’s Watershed and the Broadway in Nottingham. In July, a second iteration of Who We Are will kick off, again in collaboration with the BFI, featuring a series of interviews hand-picked from the BFI Player catalog, as well as a competition for young, Black filmmakers to have their work featured on several digital platforms.

FUNDING

WarnerMedia has donated a £250,000 ($344,650) to the Theatre Artist Fund in the U.K. to further aid struggling theater workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to smother the industry. Founded by “1917” director Sam Mendes, the Society of London Theatre and U.K. Theatre, the fund is earmarked for freelance theater employees who, under normal circumstances, comprise an estimated 70% of the sector’s workforce, but are ineligible for government support.

To date, more than 3,000 individuals, foundations and businesses have helped raise £7.2 million ($10 million), resulting in more than 7,200 grants since July of last year. Supplemented by major donations from Jerwood Foundation, Mackintosh Foundation, Backstage Trust and Huo Family Foundation, the fund opened a fifth round of grant applications in March and was able to dispense 1,900 individual £1,000 ($1,378) grants.

COMMISSIONS

Channel 5 has unveiled four new factual commissions ordered to bolster its history program catalog. Recent historical specials have proved to be a boon for the network, led by “The Great Plague” which consolidated an audience of 2.3 million viewers in 2020.

All four of the series will air later this year, with episodes airing on consecutive days of the week. “Tsunami” revisits and explains the geographical causes and aftermath of the natural disaster which struck Southeast Asia in 2004, killing nearly a quarter-million people. In “Countdown to War,” the three days leading to Germany’s invasion of Poland and the start of WWII are put under a microscope. ITN Productions’Costa Concordia” is a two-part special about the 2012 maritime disaster, and Viacom International Studios is producing “The Great Escape,” which details a famous WWII prison break.

VIRTUAL REALITY

NewImages Festival, Cannes XR and the Tribeca Festival have teamed to create and co-produce XR3, a new virtual exhibition platform for VR content from around the world, scheduled for June 9-20 and July 6-15.

Around 50 VR works, including several world premieres, will comprise a curated selection meant to represent the best in recent VR content. Hosted in the digital Museum of Other Realities (MOR), specially designed for this event, XR:3 will be accessible to owners of VR headsets via the downloadable MOR app or onsite at any of the three host events, as well as VR stations set up at partner locations around the world.

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