Listed Canadian production studio Network Entertainment, trading under Network Media Group [TSXV:NTE] has premiered its new documentary, ‘Sidney’, a biopic of actor Sidney Poitier, at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend and it has received very positive reviews from the entertainment press. The documentary is scheduled to hit Apple TV+ screens before the end of the month.
Network Entertainment is a Toronto-listed specialist in the making of documentary films, with a fast-developing sideline in the NFT space. Part of its strength is its network of contacts within the worlds of entertainment, sport and music. Sidney is just the latest in a range of high profile documentaries that it has brought to the screen.
The documentary demonstrates Network’s ability to leverage its Hollywood contacts. In this case Oprah Winfey is the producer and the film features interviews with the likes of Spike Lee, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. It features a new performance from Poitier himself before he died at the start of this year.
Apart from being a biopic of Poitier’s own career, it also marks his progress against a backdrop of the turbulence and racism in American society during the 1960s. Poitier was a trailblazer for black actors, helping the next generation to make their names in Hollywood. “For many people that was their first relationship with a Black person,” Winfrey told Reuters in an interview. “White people did not know Black people other than as maids and servants.”
Poitier carved out new roles and images for Black Americans, playing doctors, lawyers and police officers. “No matter who you are, this movie will speak to an important part of you, and it gives you the opportunity to elevate yourself by following Sidney Poitier’s example,” said director Reginald Hudlin.
An important step for Network Entertainment
The release of the documentary is an important step for Network Entertainment, which saw its production schedule hampered by the Covid pandemic. Behind the scenes, sources close to the company told The Armchair Trader that it may even be in the frame for an Oscar nomination. Sidney helps the studio to re-establish its world-leading credentials. It also comes at a time when streaming networks are competing fiercely for marquee programs which will keep subscribers coming back, now that the pandemic has receded.
The emergence of Netflix and Amazon Prime during the pandemic as major players in top level entertainment means that new distribution opportunities have been created for Network Entertainment that were not previously there.
The studio has also recently released ‘Women Who Rock’, which profiles women who made it at the highest level in the rock music industry. The studio first secured its credentials with its documentary ‘Facing Ali’, which was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary.
Network is also currently working on ‘Brat Pack’, which is describes as “a provocative exploration of what it meant to be part of the Brat Pack,’ with former Brat Pack member Andrew McCarthy as executive producer. Also in the pipeline is Legends of ‘Hockey – Greatness Calling’, which is a 10 part series on the greats of ice hockey, being worked on in association with the Hockey Hall of Fame.