Las Vegas based CES is the annual trade show for consumer technology and among industry observers is considered America’s largest annual tradeshow of any kind. CES is produced by the Consumer Technology Association, the trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry. The Consumer Electronics Show is not open to the general public. Attending means being affiliated professionally with the consumer technology industry. All profits from CES are reinvested into industry services, including technical training and education, industry promotion, engineering standards development, market research and legislative advocacy. Covering practically every aspect of the consumer technology industry, over 2,500 exhibitors descend on Las Vegas to showcase the latest innovations in 15 product categories. John Donovan, AT&T Communications, delivers the 2019 Keynote Talk at CES. CES Unveiled Las Vegas is the official January 6 media event of CES 2019, welcoming press and industry analysts from the international community before the start of CES.

AR and VR advances at CES 2019
Woman enjoying a VR simulator

Typically CES shows are segmented along product groupings. CES represents all facets of the consumer technology industry, from baby tech to sports tech, and from home entertainment to smart cities. This year’s show will be no different featuring longstanding and emerging consumer technology niches. Startups, and the impact of Eureka Park that provides startups with the opportunity to showcase their ingenuity. Another featured event in this sector will be the “Ignite the Night CES Pitch Competition, presented by NASA iTech.” The CES Sports Zone will encompass sports technology advancements, from smart products that enhance athletic performance to state-of-the-art venues and next-gen sponsorships. The Esports area will showcase live esports tournaments, with technology driving these experiences, and revelations on how esports is evolving and engaging fans. With over 380 million fans worldwide, Esports has emerged, and sessions will unveil forces driving growth, content that is appealing and how the industry is leveraging technology. The CES program sector of Immersive Entertainment will primarily explore innovations and advances from Augmented and Virtual Reality and Gaming, moreover, how brand marketers, content producers, sports technologists and health care professionals are using AR/VR to create immersive experiences, and VR/AR/MR Everywhere: Hospitality, Arcades and Theme Parks.

As Robotics and Artificial Intelligence continue to have a growing impact on industries, workplace and entertainment, CES programming in this sector will highlight the latest developments in artificial intelligence and the next generation of intelligent, autonomous machines. Particular topics that will dovetail with the emerging landscape include, Robots in Aisle 5, Creating Tomorrow’s Robotic Caregivers, R2-D2 or C-3PO? Should General-Purpose Robots Be Humanoid? Other program sectors on the CES agenda will be, Product Design and Manufacturing, Health and Wellness, Blockchain, Automotive, Advertising, Entertainment and Content; 5G and Internet of Things (IoT), Home and Family. Top industry leaders and visionaries will be brought in to share their insights on the array of topics. CES attendees can expect to hear from, Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal; Carl Vause, Soft Robotics; Michele Turner, Google Smart Home Ecosystem; Geoff Schiller, POPSUGAR; Alexandria Sage, Reuters; Elena Richards, PwC; Ginni Rometty, IBM; Catherine E. Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore; Dr. L.P. Park, LG Electronics; Rachel Nichols, ESPN; Amy McDonough, Fitbit Health Solutions; Kay Madati, Twitter Content Partnerships; Dhani Jones, RockVentures; Lauren Jarvis, Spotify Content Partnerships; Jill Cress, National Geographic Partners; Muriel Bowser, Washington DC Mayor; CES will host a Shark Tank Open Call on the final convention day.

In the city of Modena, Cos Mo Cosplay Modena is an exhibition and market in Modena dedicated to the world of manga, anime, models, action figures, comics, TV series, video games, board games, free games, role-playing games, authors and YouTubers. Activity dates run from January 12-13. Exhibitors will showcase products and services like comics, manga, CD and DVDs used and collectible vintage, collectibles, costumes and accessories for cosplay associated with the field. Cos Mo Cosplay offering will be presented as thematic areas. Making their way through the selection, visitors should expect to encounter, KST – KPop Show Time, Video Games tournaments area, Dragon Ball Super and Force of Will, Vintage Games Party, Free professional photo sets, Synergy Song, Self area Productions, table games with Cosplayou, Just Dance 2019, Lightsaber Combat, board games, Gunplatori Anonymous (fashion) modeling workshop. Cos Mo Cosplay ​​also offers a giant 360 degree animation screen on stage, photo stands for cosplayers, video game tournaments, collectible card tournaments, unique guests and exhibitions.

Cos Mo Cosplay (aka CosmoComix) is ​​the multimedia version of the traditional comic fair and an opportunity to witness new card games like Dragon Ball Super and Force of Will, entire areas dedicated to the retrogames, equipped with maxi and mini cabinets to play timeless classics – from Pac-Man to Super Mario. For those who want to reenact what it’s like being Jedi for a day, demonstrations of “lightsaber combat” are available for instruction on how to duel with a laser swords. Contest events await visitors, starting with the first edition of Synergy Song, to experience the thrill of having all the sonic power of a real stage for concerts, a giant screen, light games and smoke machine in the array. Cosplayers can compete in the Cosplay Synergy , an eight-stage race that rewards the most successful characters with a trip to London to attend the London ComicCon
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There is expected to be a full section dedicated to comics, reflecting a range of tastes, from “antiques” right up to the latest trends in publishing. There are many stalls dedicated to the serial comic strip, or those dedicated to the characters who have now become real cult icons, from Martin Mystere to the superheroes of the Horn, from Mickey Mouse to Alan Ford, from Tex to Lupo Alberto. An invited special guest of CosmoComics is Enzo Facciolo, a cartoonist who at the beginning of the ’60s gave Diabolik the face that everyone knows. The designer is available to the public to autograph the comics, tell his extraordinary artistic career and illustrate the technical and theoretical bases of his creations. Another past trend, now once again relevant is LEGO. At CosmoComix there is an entire area dedicated to the exhibition of the famous bricks, with the possibility of free play and purchase.

Matteo Leonetti is expected at CosmoComix to present a new mega concert, along with Disharmonica as special international guest of the cosplayer world. Zerio performs with his live K-POP band. CosmoComix also includes the Discoveries Market, CD and DVD used and collectibles. In the age of digital and disc-less music, discs and CDs have become collector’s items through which to relive cult moments in the history of music. Fiere del Fumetto, that administers Cos Mo Cosplay Modena, is a project by Blu Nautilus Srl, that is focused toward the creation of fairs and events that meet the expectations of customers. The group operates from the city of Rimini, in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.

The National Association of Television Programming Executives (#natpe) is the premier global business forum for content buyers, producers, and distributors across all platforms. Annually, NATPE hosts its marketplace and conference events in Miami Beach and Budapest that draw content buyers and sellers from around the globe to make deals and share in the international conversation. The upcoming Miami convention kicks off with a Welcome Party that opens the four-day NATPE 2019 on the evening of January 21, at Eden Roc Poolside, Miami Beach. Then, there will be an Opening Night Party the very next night at Fontainebleau Poolside, also Miami Beach. Actor/Director/Producer Tyler Perry is set to be one of the first keynote speakers at a daylong career event aimed at students and young adults, presented by NATPE, the NAACP and National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The “Living the Dream: A Career in Content” event will be held January 21 (one day before the official start of NATPE), and the focus will be on education and networking opportunities for young adults interested in careers in entertainment. Of special note, a reception and ceremony will be conducted for the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, the evening of January 23.

Beyond welcome and opening night parties, and special award receptions, all of which are always anticipated, the 2019 NATPE convention agenda and program reflects strongly on the continuing evolution of the global television and affiliated digital content industries. These areas will be in the planned conference program segments that form panels, workshops and speakers presentations. Agenda topics include, How Wall Street Watches TV, Worldwide Co-Production: The New Business Standard, Producing Content Worth Paying For, A Marketplace Transformed: New Buyers for Unscripted Content, Diverse Creators & Global Platforms with Facebook’s Emerging Video Producers, International TV Has Grown Up: A Conversation with Mark Kaner and Gerhard Zeiler, What the World is Buying, In Conversation with NBC Entertainment Chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy, All the World’s A Stream, Connected TV: What Does it Mean For The Future of TV Content? Over the Top and Over the Air: Monetization and Redefining the Media Landscape, More Choice in a Next-Gen TV World, Tuning In To Social Video: How Entertainment Brands Are Engaging Viewers.

At the 2019 Sundance, films will come in the categories U.S. Dramatic Competition, U.S. Documentary Competition, World Cinema Dramatic Competition, World Cinema Documentary Competition, Premieres, Documentary Premieres, Spotlight, NEXT, Midnight, Indie Episodic, Shorts, Special Events, From the Collection, and Kids. There will be the New Frontier section that will contain Films and Performances – a selection of cinematic visions by revolutionary artists, Exhibitions – stories derived through a amalgam of film, art and digital technology that offer up the next vista of storytelling. And in the Offscreen section, panels with a variety of guests and topics that invite audiences into the discussion on storytelling will be offered, and a music program of live performances taking place throughout the festival.

Entering its 34th year, Sundance Festival, based in Park City and administered by the Sundance Institute, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. Originally founded by renowned film actor Robert Redford in the mountains of Sundance, Utah, the Institute seeks to discover, support, and inspire independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work through the annual festival and other programs it runs. In addition to discovering new filmmaking talent through the Festival’s program of documentary, dramatic, and short films, festival goers experience live music performances, panel discussions with leading filmmakers and industry figures, cutting-edge media installations including VR/AR, parties celebrating the Festival community, and more. The opening premiere for the 11-day festival is writer/director Bart Freundlich’s ‘After The Wedding’ (Cornerstone Films), on January 24.

Beyond the film festival, Sundance supports the independent film community, and associated artists, through various initiatives, providing opportunities to introduce their work to new audiences. Through a Creative Distribution Initiative, online resources, live workshops, and a network of allied organizations, the program provides support and insights on creative funding, marketing, and distribution. With a Diversity Initiative that has founding support from Time Warner Foundation, programs of programs of the organization endeavor to reach into new communities of storytellers and audiences across regions, genres, ethnicities, gender and orientation.

Atmosphere outside the Ace Hotel as a crowd gathers for Sundance Institute at Sundown.

A Sundance Native Program supports indigenous filmmakers by bringing them through the mechanisms of support at Sundance Institute to get their work made and shown, then bringing the filmmakers and their work back to native lands. The Sundance Film Music Program raises the profile of music in film through a series of concerts, events and panels. Led by Peter Golub, it connects composers and directors, giving them first-hand experience of the collaborative process. In addition to the Festival, Sundance Institute hosts many public programs in the US and around the world to connect artists with audiences to present original voices, inspire new ideas, and create community around independent storytelling.

Traditionally happening in the same town (Park City), and with slightly overlapping dates as the Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival opens a day after Sundance (January 25) but closes at the month’s end rather than crawl into February as Sundance does. For it’s 2019 festival, Slamdance has in place the Narrative and Documentary Feature Film Competition programs, as well as a lineup for the new Breakouts section. The 2019 festival will see the return of the Russo Fellowship — a $25,000 prize launched in 2018 by celebrated festival alumni Anthony and Joe Russo (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Infinity War) enabling a deserving filmmaker the opportunity to continue their journey with support from the filmmaking duo. The Directors Guild of America and Blackmagic Design are Presenting Sponsors of this year’s festival. The festival opening night Breakout Feature screening, ‘Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story,’ directed by Patrick Creadon, chronicles the life and times of the filmmaker who, through his annual ski films was a strong advocate for the ski industry in America and throughout the world.

The feature competition lineup boasts 18 premieres, including 10 World, four North American, and four U.S. debuts. In addition to the United States, films come to Slamdance from countries around the globe, including Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Poland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. All competition films are feature length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million USD, and without US distribution. Featured films were selected by a team of Slamdance alumni using a blind submission process and are programmed democratically. Films in both categories are also eligible for the Audience Award and Spirit of Slamdance Award, the latter of which is voted upon by filmmakers at the festival.

The lineup for the festival’s new Breakouts section are films by non-first-time-feature directors who demonstrate a determined vision of filmmaking that is instinctively becoming their own. These artists are regarded for their propensity to push boundaries in genre and form. Slamdance’s goal is to help such daring filmmakers connect with bigger audiences and navigate onto the world cinema stage. The 2019 Breakouts feature the work of several Slamdance alumni, including Steven Soderbergh, who executive produced Beats, and Canadian filmmaker Alexandre Franchi who received the Audience Award for best Narrative Feature at the 2010 festival for The Wild Hunt.

Established in 1995, Slamdance had a role in fostering recognizable talent in independent filmmaking. In addition to the Russo Brothers, notable Slamdance alumni include (in part): Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk), Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), Bong Joon Ho (Okja), Lena Dunham (Girls), Ari Aster (Hereditary), Gina Prince-Blythewood (Shots Fired), and Sean Baker (The Florida Project). In addition to the Festival, Slamdance serves emerging artists and a growing community with several year-round initiatives. These include the Slamdance Screenplay Competition, its educational program Slamdance Polytechnic, DIG showcase of Digital Interactive and Gaming art, distribution efforts through Slamdance Presents, worldwide screening series Slamdance on the Road, and LA screening series Slamdance Cinema Club. Box Office Mojo reports alumni who first showed their work at Slamdance have earned over $17 billion at the Box Office to date.Submissions to the 2020 Slamdance Festival will be considered beginning in June 2019.

The above events are only a sample of what is fully listed. Complete details are on the “Calendar of Global Media and Showbiz Industry Social Networking Events” page. If you like this report and other content found on The Actor’s Checklist, like the Facebook page at this link. In this month’s photo placement (starting at the very top), Replicas, starring Keeanu Reeves, opens mid-January in North America. Next, the CES in Las Vegas, NATPE 2019 in Miami, Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Slamdance Film Festival in Park City. We are in a new year and the calendar pace picks up. Now as we enter February here are some anticipated industry events to note on the calendar. Digital Radio Week will be conducted from Geneva and the interrelated World Radio Day administered by UNESCO goes online, the Hollywood Professional Association Tech Retreat will be conducted from Palm Desert the Saudi International Media & Broadcast Expo opens in Riyadh, the International Istanbul Film TV Forum & Exhibition is in Istanbul, the 61st Annual Grammy Awards returns to the Staples Center in Los Angeles and airs live on CBS TV, Mobile World Congress 2019 returns to Barcelona, the 91st Academy Awards is once again in Los Angeles.

Cos Mo Cosplay Modena, NATPE 2019 Miami, Sundance Film Festival, 25th Slamdance Film Festival, are calendar highlights in January’s media and showbiz industry events