• Indies from around the world on Sundance Channel


    As the Filipino filmmaker continues to shine in the independent genre, winning numerous citations and awards from international film festivals in Cannes, Toronto, and Busan among others, it is but timely that the Sundance Channel is now available in the Philippines via cable.

    The 24-hour movie channel will allow film producers, directors, scriptwriters, as well as actors easy access and exposure to award-winning pieces from all over the world, which should help enrich their knowledge and skills in making what has come to be called the “indie.” Cable subscribers, on the other hand, will have more options in movie viewing from home, and hopefully find themselves more open to works of art outside the realm of Hollywood blockbusters and local box office hits.

    The bearer of this piece of good news was Keith Mak, Sundance Channel’s head of affiliate distribution in Asia. He flew in from Hong Kong to Manila this week to talk more about the thrust of the cable network in the region. Accompanying Mak was Lorraine Ou, who serves as marketing manager for Asia at the Singapore office, and Asian Cable Communication’s CEO Jacque Ruby, whose company distributes the Sundance Channel as well as lifestyle network We TV in the Philippines.

    Unbeknownst to many, the Sundance Channel has been available in the Philippine market for the past year, and in neighboring Asian countries for some two-and-a-half years.

    As the network’s information packet indicates, the Sundance Channel was established by legendary Hollywood actor and director Robert Redford, who also founded the world famous Sundance Film Festival. Just as Redford envisioned, the cable network offers audiences a diverse and engaging selection of award-winning independent films, documentaries and original programs.

    “Offering a wide array of bold, imaginative and uncompromising programs, the network caters to independent-minded viewers seeking something different,” Mak elaborated.

    In the same breath, the executive also acknowledged that Sundance obviously has a niche market, which is also the reason why the network is experience a “steady build up” of following across the region.

    “This is usually the case with indie channels,” he admitted, “but since our mother company in the United States is AMC Networks Inc.—the network behind such critically acclaimed TV series like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and the big Emmy winner this year, Breaking Bad—we’ve designed a programming that is 80-percent indie movies, with the 20-percent interspersed with these widely popular mainstream TV series.”

    The aim of such a clever marketing approach is to attract non-indie fans to tune into the network for their fill of the Emmy-type productions, and hopefully invite them to try out and even appreciate indie films in time.”

    Sundance Channel exclusively premiered Breaking Bad across Asia for the first time in 2012. The series focuses on Walter White who is experiencing a mid-life crisis. When Walt discovers he is dying of lung cancer, the high school chemistry teacher develops a new sense of fearlessness. Desperate to secure his family’s financial future, he transforms from a mild mannered family man into a drug kingpin.

    Also featured on Sundance Channel is Rectify, which explores the life of a man who is released from prison after 18 years on death row.

    Low Winter Sun will premiere on the channel later this year and is a contemporary story of murder, deception, revenge and corruption in a world where the line between cops and criminals is blurred.

    The Sundance Channel is also home to award-winning films such as Emma, Cold Mountain, Goodwill Hunting and Hotel Rwanda.

    As Mak and his team continue to strengthen the presence of Sundance Channel in the region, he is proud of the fact that they have also stepped up the time frame in showing their film acquisitions as well as the AMC series.

    “Our team goes to the biggest film festivals around the world and chooses what they believe is best for the Asian market, where the key is strong story telling,” he explained. “And from there, we have shortened the time of acquiring rights, editing, censorship compliance to as short as three months from the theatrical showing, which is a feat for any movie channel.”

    As for the TV series, Sundance Channel Asia’s goal is to be able to air shows simultaneously with the American market.

    Until then, Robert Redford’s baby on the small screen will continue to celebrate the creativity of the independent filmmaker from all over the world—perhaps including the Philippines’ some time soon.

    For Philippine distribution inquiries, call the Asian Cable Communications (Accion) sales team at 636-0670 to 70.


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