Culture Matters

Spherex's weekly insights into the globalization of entertainment.

Understanding international cultural trends and narratives is critical to the media and entertainment industry’s ability to adapt, evolve and innovate.


CSO demands total ban on smoking in Nollywood scenes

As more youths take to smoking cigarettes, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA…demanded a total ban on smoking in Nollywood movies as they, directly and indirectly, advertise products of tobacco companies.  [Nigeria]


UTURN, Facebook sign content partnership for Ramadan

UTURN, part of Webedia Arabia Group, has partnered with Facebook to unveil a series of videos throughout the year. Launching during Ramadan 2021, exclusive content will be shared across the Facebook pages of the group’s publications 3a2ilati.com, Yasmina.com, AtyabTabkha.com, SaudiGamer.com and UTURN. Webedia Arabia Group attracts viewership and engagement of 44 million people through its five main publications. With an emphasis on celebrating cultural nuances, it is especially focusing on developing content for its growing number of Generation Z and Millennial users. [Middle East/North Africa]


Iran’s state TV censors UK soccer match to avoid showing legs of female referee

Iranian state TV censored a live broadcast of a British soccer match to avoid showing the legs of a female assistant referee, a rights group said Tuesday. The match was censored over “100 times,” according to My Stealthy Freedom, an Iranian rights group that opposes Iran’s compulsory hijab law. During the Premier League match between Tottenham and Manchester United on Sunday, an Iranian state channel cut away from the game and played footage of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the backstreets of North London in an effort to conceal shots of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis, who was wearing shorts. [Iran]


Imprisoned Belarus Festival Director Released After International Outcry

Tatsiana Hatsura-Yavorska, the director of the Watch Docs Film Festival in Belarus, has been released from prison and had charges against her dropped following an international outcry from film festivals and human rights organizations. Hatsura-Yavorska was arrested in Minsk on April 5, allegedly for her role in organizing an underground photo exhibition celebrating Belarusian health workers. She was then placed in a detention center and accused of participating in anti- government protests, demonstrations the government of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has ruled illegal. [Belarus]


TBI In Conversation: ‘RATS’ director Viktor Taus on drugs, drama & talent

The Czech Republic has an illustrious history of filmmaking, but TV series from the country are now also now becoming an in-demand product for global viewers. This development has come in tandem with the drive for ‘authentic’ shows that reflect the countries they are set in, while also offering viewers around the world access points through storylines that resonate wherever viewers may live. [Czech Republic]


IAMAI Takes Indian OTT Industry Concerns Over New IT Rules To Govt

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on April 9 prepared a final list of concerns from online video streaming OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ Hotstar on the Information Technology Rules, 2021. According to a report by Medianama, OTT platforms have sought an extension to the deadline to comply with the new rules. IAMAI also wrote that the industry has asked for an additional three months to appoint grievance officers and implement the self-regulatory body (SRB), both of which are mandatory under the new law. The platforms also sought a year’s extension for implementing parental controls and an additional six months for other obligations such as content descriptors. [India]


Hong Kong TVB sitcom earned mainland netizens’ thumbs-up for promoting national security law

Sitcom Come Home Love: Lo and Behold, airing on Hong Kong's Television Broadcasts Limited, has earned numerous thumbs-up from netizens in the Chinese mainland for including a scene promoting national security law. Many netizens in the mainland commented on how they feel Hong Kong has improved after the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. On Tuesday, two days ahead of China's National Security Education Day, the drama had a scene in which a father played by Chan Wing-chun asks his daughter, played by Lam Hoi-yan, to write the Chinese character an, which means "peace," or "security," and then goes on to explain that national security not only relates to sovereignty, politics and military defense, but also is highly connected to people's livelihood including economy and culture. [Hong Kong/China]


Eight Chinese films to be released in S. Korea in 2021, sign of increased cultural communication

A total of eight Chinese films will release in South Korea in 2021. Such a big number of Chinese films can be seen as a sign of an increased cultural communication between China and South Korea, but the previous dominance of the “Korean Wave” in the Chinese entertainment market will not happen again due to the improved Chinese film market, Chinese observers said on Monday. “The main reason that a group of Chinese films are being released in South Korea is because 2021 is the China-Korea Cultural Exchange Year,” Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Monday. China’s CCTV and South Korea’s public television network KBS signed an agreement on February 22 to cooperate in various aspects of the cultural industry, according to CCTV. [China/South Korea]


Byron Bay: Calls for Netflix boycott over reality show plans

Anger has erupted in the community over the planned influencer-led series titled Byron Bay. The petition, which calls for a filming ban, argues the town will be used as a "punch line" for the show. Some businesses have refused to take part in the show, local media report. The picturesque town on the New South Wales north coast is known for its surf beaches and relaxed lifestyle. It has gained prominence in influencer culture and over the past year, has also become a mecca for visiting Hollywood stars. [Australia]


The films redefining the American experience

Former political radicals, the economically dispossessed and beleaguered immigrants are the faces at the centre of this year's dynamic Oscar frontrunners – an unexpected silver lining to an awards season upended by the pandemic. Conventional wisdom says that during times of crisis, such as the Great Depression, moviegoers want escapism. But almost all the franchise-action movies set for 2020 were delayed, and among the few big-budget films that arrived even Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 fizzled out. Instead, the year has given us powerful social dramas that redefine the American experience with clear-eyed, 21st Century realism. [United States]


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