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Atomic-backed Jumpcut uses data to advance diversity in film

Jumpcut founder Kartik Hosanagar is a professor at the Wharton School, but about ten years ago, he spent his summer in an unlikely way: he wrote a screenplay. Set in India, his script garnered some interest from producers, but no one took the plunge to fund a film by a first-time Indian director.
Now, films featuring diverse casts are gaining traction – this year, Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color, and only the second woman ever, to win the Academy Award for Best Director. At the previous ceremony, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to …

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Amazon launches free video streaming service in India

Amazon has long maintained that its video streaming service, Prime Video, helps drive more sales on the shopping app. Now the e-commerce giant is testing what happens when it brings a video streaming service directly to the shopping app.
The e-commerce giant on Saturday launched MiniTV, an ad-supported video streaming service that is “completely free” within the Amazon India app. MiniTV is currently available only to users in India, Amazon said.
MiniTV features web-series, comedy shows, and content around tech news, food, beauty, fashion “to begin with,” Amazon said. Some of the titles currently available have been produced by TVF …

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Netflix gets 35 Oscar nominations, including 10 for ‘Mank’

Netflix’s original films received 35 Oscar nominations this year, once again putting the streaming service ahead of ahead of any other Hollywood studios.
“Mank” led the pack with 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Oldman) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Amanda Seyfried). That doesn’t necessarily make it a shoo-in to be Netflix’s first Best Picture winner, however — it’s worth remembering that in 2019, the streamer’s film “Roma” received 10 nominations as well, ultimately winning three awards but not Best Picture. And last year, “The Irishman” went empty-handed …

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘Lupin’ is a twisty delight

The new Netflix series “Lupin” is a loose adaptation of the Arséne Lupin stories by Maurice Leblanc, but it’s set in the present day, with a hero who’s inspired by the exploits of Leblanc’s fictional “gentleman thief.”
Through flashbacks, we meet Assane Diop (played by Omar Sy) as a young Senegalese immigrant who has recently arrived in Paris with his father. As an adult, he’s transformed himself into an impossible-to-catch thief and master of disguise.
While some of Assane’s schemes have a satisfying clockwork intricacy, others rely more on his willingness to walk into any …

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Former Asana employees want to take on Discord with a positive platform for creator communities

In a creator-economy world, if you’re only as good as your last YouTube video, then your next YouTube video had better be bigger and louder than the last.
Vibely, a new startup co-founded by Asana alumni Teri Yu and Theresa Lee, wants to turn the constant, and often exhausting, beast of content creation on its head. The startup has created a premium, creator-controlled community platform that allows fans to gather and be monetized in new ways, beyond what is possible on YouTube or TikTok.
The core of Vibely, and what the co-founders hope will keep users coming back, is …

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Original Content podcast: Netflix’s ‘White Tiger’ tells a bloody capitalist fable

The new Netflix film “The White Tiger” tells the story of Balram, who is born to a poor family in the Indian village of Laxmangarh and escapes by using his intelligence and determination, ultimately becoming a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore.
Viewers knows this from the start, as Balram (played by Adarsh Gourav) narrates his life story in an email, apparently written to explain his success to China’s visiting head of state. That narration is one of the best things about the movie, providing plenty of black comedy while also allowing Balram to justify his choices in what — by his …

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Original Content podcast: ‘Bridgerton’ is an addictive reimagining of Jane Austen-style romance

“Bridgerton,” the Shondaland drama that launched last month on Netflix, offers a few key updates to the standard formula of Regency-era  romance.
For one thing, there’s a racially diverse cast, with Black actors taking on the role of early 19th-century English nobility and royalty. (At one point, one of the characters offers an unconvincing explanation for why this is the case, but we — and the show — mostly ignored it.) For another, there’s a healthy dose of sex; “Bridgerton” emphatically does not shy away from showing viewers what its unbelievably attractive cast gets up to in the bedroom.
On …

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This Week in Apps: TikTok viral hit breaks Spotify records, inauguration boosts news app installs, judge rules against Parler

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 218 billion downloads and $143 billion in global consumer spend in 2020.
Consumers last year also spent 3.5 trillion minutes using apps on Android devices alone. And in the U.S., app usage surged ahead of the time spent watching live TV. Currently, the average American watches 3.7 hours of live TV per day, but now spends four hours per day on their mobile devices.
Apps aren’t …

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Original Content podcast: Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz have a good time in ‘Pretend It’s A City’

The concept behind the new Netflix documentary series “Pretend It’s A City” is pretty straightforward: Author Fran Lebowitz talks, while Martin Scorsese (who’s both director and an on-camera presence) listens and laughs.
Lebowitz’s musings across seven episodes are organized by loose themes, such as “Metropolitan Transit” and “Library Services,” with the more recent footage interspersed with clips from older interviews. That’s pretty much it as far as structure goes; while Lebowitz shares a number of amusing anecdotes, there’s no attempt to explore the broader arc of her career or explain why we’re watching a …

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Original Content podcast: David Fincher presents a compelling character study in ‘Mank’

“Mank” is a change of pace for director David Fincher — instead of exploring the world of startup backstabbing (“The Social Network”), political backstabbing (“House of Cards”) or actual stabbings (“Seven,” “Zodiac,” “Gone Girl,” “Mindhunter” etc.), Fincher takes us back to ’30s and ’40s Hollywood.
Working from a script by Fincher’s late father Jack, the movie is shot and edited to pay homage to the classic studio films of that era — especially “Citizen Kane,” whose co-writer Herman Mankiewicz (played by Gary Oldman) is the “Mank” of the film’s title.
The story jumps back-and-forth in time, showing how Mank became …

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