Industry Calls for Immediate Release of Hajooj Kuka

In today’s Global Bulletin, the global film community calls for the release of Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka, Jana Bennett is announced as Congress ’20 closing speaker, PBS Masterpiece heads to Amazon in Canada, Leonine gets Oliver Vogel for W&B Television role, the Production Guild of Great Britain opens nominations for 2020 Innovation Awards and The Story Lab sells “Game of Clones” format in Brazil.


Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka, whose films “Beats of the Antonov” and “aKasha” have played the Venice and Toronto film festivals, was among five artists sentenced to two months in prison on Thursday on charges of “public annoyance.”

The artists were involved in an altercation in Khartoum in August, after authorities reportedly responded to noise complaints from neighbors during a theater rehearsal.

Steven Markovitz, who produced both of Kuka’s films, decried what he described as “trumped-up charges” against the director, who was admitted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this year.

“Hajooj has touched many with his friendship, wisdom, talent and bravery,” Markovitz said in a statement. “We call on the Sudanese government to release the artists immediately.”

Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey tweeted his support, saying, “We need to make some noise about this.”


Jana Bennett, who served in senior executive roles for each of A&E, Discovery and the BBC, will deliver the closing remarks at this year’s Congress ’20, hosted by the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers.

Bennet is a board member of the British Library and the Pew Research Center, a member of the board of the Headlong Theater Company and adviser to Ozy Media.

“It pleases us to no end to welcome Jana back to her roots where she was one of the original members of Congress more than two decades ago,” said Paul Lewis, conference director for the WCSFP. “As a global leader and formidable talent, it’s so fitting that we close this year’s event with her reflections on the rapidly changing state of our industry as well as her own tumultuous personal journey.”


PBS Masterpiece has launched its streaming channel, PBS Masterpiece, on Amazon Prime Video channels in Canada. The subscription-based streaming network modernizes PBS’s decades-long tradition of bringing popular British scripted series to North American audiences.

Launched on Sept. 15, British titles on the channel include “Sanditon,” “Endeavour” and “Victoria,” among others. The service also come with titles from the hand-picked Walter Presents library, which selects programming from around the globe, subtitled in English. Highlights include Denmark’s “Seaside Hotel,” and crime series “Professor T,” “Though Shall Not Kill,” and “Before We Die.”


German production house Leonine has appointed Oliver Vogel as managing director of subsidiary W&B Television, where he will take up the role in February as part of the company’s efforts to expand its production division.

In his new position, Vogel will focus on the development, acquisition and production of TV projects for both the local and international markets to facilitate growth at W&B. Vogel will report to Leonine Holding co-founders Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann.

Vogel joins the company from Bavaria Fiction having previously worked for Colonia Media. His producer credits include Sky’s “Das Boot,” ARD’s “In aller Freundschaft,” “Tierärztin Dr. Mertens” and “Rentnercops,” and ZDF’s “Soko Stuttgart,” among others.


The Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB) has opened nominations for the 2020 PGGB Innovation Awards, in association with Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, created to commend the innovative work done by industry professionals to keep production going during lockdown.

Three new awards will be given to professionals working in production offices, accounts, locations, assistant directing, post production or VFX. They are: The PGGB Innovation Award for Production Team, sponsored by Warner Bros Studios Leavesden; the PGGB Innovation Award for an Individual, sponsored by Netflix; and the PGGB Special Recognition Award.

Nominations are now open and will run through Oct. 8. Awards will be distributed at an online ceremony, streamed on PGGB’s YouTube channel.


The Story Lab has closed a cross-platform deal with Endemol Shine Brazil for its international format “Game of Clones,” set to premiere in October. It’s the first Brazilian deal for The Story Lab, an important milestone as the company continues to grow its Latin American footprint.

Streamer Amazon Prime Video and free-to-air network RecordTV teamed on the commission and will broadcast the series concurrently. It will also be made available to Portuguese audiences outside of Brazil on RecordTV International.

After rolling out in the U.K., U.S., Germany and France, “Game of Clones” won best competition reality format at the International Format Awards.

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