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HBO Brings International Content to U.S.

by Jef Dinsmore
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I often wondered, what with six more nights to fill beyond Sundays, why HBO could not import some of its international content from affiliates around the world. Well, finally it is going to do that, but the content it is offering will just be available on the streaming sites and On Demand. It still means more great HBO content coming our way. That is, of course, provided you will watch content with subtitles. HBO Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler stated – “Working with talented local writers, directors and producers, our international networks are creating programming that lives up to the high-quality storytelling that is expected of the HBO brand. This programming regularly outperforms even GAME OF THRONES record audience numbers in their respective markets. I am tremendously proud to bring such a selection of programs to our U.S. audience.”

Here is a listing of the initial programming becoming available as early as December. The information comes via a press release, plus there are some additional opinion and footage about each of the shows coming our way. Regarding the clips shown, we scoured the choices and offer the best one though they all do not have subtitles. Here is information via a press release, plus some additional opinion and footage about each of the shows coming our way.

HBOEurope-300x169Coming our way from the HBO Europe market is the Czech Republic mini-series WASTELAND.

WASTELAND (Pustina, Czech Republic) – Set in the scarred landscape of northern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, Pustina blends social realism, intense psychological drama and a gripping mystery when the members of a close-knit, multi-generational village community are impacted by a life-changing event. Just as Hana Sikorova, mayor of the village of Pustina, reaches the peak of her struggle against a foreign mining company that wants to access the huge coal reserves that lie beneath the village, her 14- year-old daughter Míŝa goes missing. As long-standing family relationships begin to disintegrate Hana starts to doubt the integrity of every member of her community. Initially helpful in the desperate search for the missing Míŝa, the citizens of Pustina soon begin to reveal their true colors. Winner of the Czech Lion for Best Drama Series 2016, it also had special screenings at Karlovy Vary and Toronto International Film Festivals. It runs for eight 1-hour installments.


THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE TO LOSE EVERYTHING…WASTELAND. The clip sets the mood quite easily. It is stark, raw, grim and intense. It is like HBO’s FIVE DAYS, but more moody and sinister.

Also coming available is seasons 1 and 2 of the Poland series PAKT.

PAKT (Poland)  – A conspiracy thriller set in contemporary Warsaw over two seasons, PAKT looks into the life of investigative journalist Piotr Grodecki. In season 1 he uncovers major corporate fraud and in season 2 further layers of government secrets. The action takes place in a world where politics, media and business overlap, blurring the lines between what’s true and false. Piotr painfully discovers that he will need to make a choice – seek the truth, or sacrifice the ones he loves. Each season offers six 1-hour installments.


With all the big business buildings and the throughway depicted here, it looks like it could have been set in an American corporate center. The Polish accent in the clip gives it away that it is not located in the U. S. It is Warsaw and our lead Piotr is investigating things that place him in real danger. The series creates its own oppressive atmosphere.


From the HBO Asia market, two series became available. The Taiwan series THE TEENAGE PSYCHIC airs six 1-hour episodes.

 THE TEENAGE PSYCHIC (Taiwan)  – HBO Asia’s six-part series explores the life of a girl who just wants to lead a typical teenage life. However, born with the ability to see beyond the surface and into the spiritual sphere, she must learn to juggle the pressures of teenage life – her first love, academic success as well as peer pressure with the additional demands of the spiritual world. THE TEENAGE PSYCHIC is HBO Asia’s first production in Taiwan, set and filmed fully on-location. The series, which debuted in early- 2017, was also jointly developed with Taiwanese broadcaster, Public Television Service (PTS), and award-winning Singaporean production company, InFocus Asia (IFA).


Admittedly, this is not a great representation of what this series could offer. It almost comes across as live-action anime, though her connection to the spiritual world is really expressed well here. Keep in mind though with foreign content we are getting the attitude, nuance and culture of the country flavoring each clip. 


Also from Asia is the highly mentioned Indonesia/Thailand series HALFWORLDS, seasons 1 and 2.

HALFWORLDS (Indonesia and Thailand)  – HALFWORLDS delves into the underworld of mythological demons that inhabit the back alleys of Jakarta (season 1) and the neon lights of Bangkok (season 2). Season 2 follows a tenacious researcher named Juliet who is trying to uncover the secret world of demons that live in Bangkok while looking for an ancient artifact of great power. An ensemble cast of actors from Thailand, Indonesia, The Philippines and Taiwan star. Season 1 was awarded the Best Editing award at the Asian Television Awards in 2016. Season 1 (8 x 30 minutes) directed by Joko Anwar and starring Arifin Putra and Reza Rahadian. Season 2 (8 x 1 hour) directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham and stars Arifin Putra and Peem Jaiyan.

I remember hearing buzz about this one making an impression in global news. It is TRUE BLOOD really ramped up! It seems steeped in mystic arts, dark alleyways, primal fears and truly wicked demons all in a locale rarely seen by Americans.  



HBO Latin America offers two series we have mentioned over on the monthly “What’s On” post. First, seasons 1 and 2 of EL HIPNOTIZADOR.

EL HIPNOTIZADOR (O Hipnotizador, Brazil) –  Based on an Argentinian graphic novel, O Hipnotizador follows the life of Natalio Arenas, a hypnotist who uses his gift to reveal people’s lost memories. Arenas finds it easier to solve his client’s problems than his own. He lives in a hotel, immersed in painful memories and is then subjected to an eternal insomnia in which he hides a deep secret. In order to be cured from this disorder, he and his accomplices will have to face Darek, the hypnotist who cursed him. Season 1 (8 x 1 hour) directed by Alex Gabassi and José Eduardo Belmonte, Season 2 (8 x 1 hour) directed by Marco Dutra, Aly Muritiba and Pablo Machline, stars Leonardo Sbaraglia.


You don’t need to understand the language to sense that this is a bit odd, loopy, off-putting and stylized; those traits are perfectly okay to possess. Dare I add one more? How about mesmerizing, too?   


There is also the new Brazilian drama LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PAREJAS.

 LA VIDA SECRETA DE LAS PAREJAS (A Vida Secreta Dos Casais, Brazil) –  A Vida Secreta dos Casais explores the life of sexologist and therapist Sofia Prado, who runs an alternative therapies center where she helps couples work through their difficulties while dealing with her own hidden emotional turmoil. As she helps her patients discover their intimate truths, Sofia’s secrets also begin to come to light when she finds herself caught up in the investigation of a complex web of corruption operated by Edgar Eleno Andreazza, a powerful banker and businessman with a great deal of influence on government officials.


That clip begged me to hit the subtitles option that accompanied it because I was not getting much of a read from the clip, however the translation it offered was horrible so I didn’t get much from it but a bit of eroticism and entanglement with dangerous men. A bad clip does not mean a bad series though.


So there you go. Anyone going to hit up any of these once they land on HBONow/Go and HBOOnDemand? Let us know in the comments below.

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