For 10 days, Series Mania brought a flood of international TV talent to the French capital. Thanks to an incomparable program and some exceptional guests, the festival enjoyed a huge boost to its international reputation. Attendance was also up for the eighth edition of the event.
Some 53,000 people, up 37% on 2016,attended 150 screenings hosted at the Forum des images and other theaters across Paris. These included UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles, Le Grand Rex, UGC Normandie, The Pompidou Center, Le Luminor Hôtel de Ville, Forum des Halles, and for the first time, outside the capital at UGC Ciné Cité Rosny.
A selection of 59 series and 15 web and digital series,including 31 world or international premieres from 22 countries, were shown in an exceptional panorama of contemporary TV production.
At the heart of the programming was a selection of 10 series in the official competition, presented to a jury presided over by Damon Lindelof (showrunner on The Leftovers) along with Aure Atika, Clément Manuel, Agnieszka Holland, and Eytan Fox. These 10 shows offered some veritable revelations to the audience. Winners included the Israeli production Your Honor (Jury Grand Prix), the American show I Love Dick (Special Jury Prize) and two European winners, German series 4 Blocks and British show, Broken, which respectively won Best Actor and Best Actress.
Across the fest’s other sections, some highly anticipated world or international premieres created a buzz. These included the first episodes of American Gods and the second season of Sense8, entire brand new seasons of Dix pour cent and Hero Corp, not to mention the second seasons of the Norwegian-French-Swedish coproduction Occupied,along with The Missing from the UK.
Series Mania continued to explore new territories with Russian series Better Than Us and Salaam Moscow! in the line-up, alongside Kali, a digital series from Bangladesh.
The festival also selected the cream of the crop from countries already reputed for their creativity, including Australian production Seven Types of Ambiguity, 13 Commandmentsfrom Belgium, the UK’s Born to Kill, Clique, and Apple Tree Yard,along with Dumb and Judafrom Israel.
For the first time, this year’s Series Mania audiences were able to take a dive back into TV history with a conference on 20 years of Buffy, a screening of multiple episodes of French 80s show Pause-Café in the presence of actress Véronique Jannot, and adult animation classics like The Simpsons.
This eighth edition was marked by several prestigious screenings in the presence of many stars, such as the opening night at Le Grand Rex theater. An audience of 2,700 enjoyed an exclusive screening of the first two episodes of season three of The Leftovers in the presence of showrunner Damon Lindelof and cast members Christopher Eccleston and Justin Theroux – who brought along his wife Jennifer Aniston – alongside the shows composer Max Richter.
An exceptional session with actress Julianna Margulies (ER and The Good Wife), guest of honor at the festival, was a highpoint for fans who greeted her with a standing ovation. Danish screenwriter Adam Price enjoyed a debate with the audience prior to the screening of his latest creation, Ride Upon the Storm, which had its world premiere in competition at the festival. British screenwriter Jimmy McGovern came to discuss the creative process behind his new project, Broken, which screened exclusively at Series Mania.
Other highlights included a surprise visit from actor Aziz Ansari at the screening of Master of None, and another from Oscar-winning writer, Dustin Lance Black, who came to talk about his new series, When We Rise.
The closing ceremony played to a full house, and was hosted by French TV personality Isabelle Giordano who was joined on the stage of the Forum des images by many of the prizewinners, including American Sarah Gubbins, co-creator of I Love Dick along with Jill Soloway; Israeli creators Shlomo Mashiach and Ron Ninio (Your Honor); German actor Kida Khodr Ramadan (4 Blocks); and Israeli director Meni Yaesh (Juda); along with a strong French presence including actors Arieh Worthalter (Transferts) and Ophélia Kolb (On va s’aimer, un peu… beaucoup), and the cast of Missions.
A FESTIVAL FOR PROFESSIONALS
From 18-21 April, The Co-Production Forum, the professional arm of Series Mania, was a big hit with French and industry execs, with more than 1,600 accredits, up 33% over 2016.
The 16 projects for series in development selected by the Forum from 312 submissions, up 61% compared to 2016, werein competition for the first time.
Fertile Crescent, written by Maria Feldman and Karine Tuil, a coproduction between Israel (Masha Productions, Spiro Film) and France (Haut et Court), won the Series Project Award and a grant of €50,000, awarded by a jury of international industry execs,presided over by Francesca Orsi (co-Head of Drama at HBO).
The Co-Production Forum’s Pitching Sessions gave rise to 445 individual meetings between those driving the various projects and a range of potential financial partners, including acquisitions and sales execs and producers from 39 countries.
This year, the Co-Production Forum, in association with the TorinoFilmLab, opened a new program for nine projects in the writing phase. SeriesLab saw 84 meetings between creative teams and industry execs during the Co-Production Forum.
In addition, the Co-Production Forum welcomed some major players from the international TV industry including Julia Kenyon, Director of Brands & Content Marketing - BBC Worldwide; Christophe Thoral, President of Lagardère Studios; and Christian Vesper, EVP, Creative Director of Global Drama - FremantleMedia, who took part in various conferences, presentations, and debates on issues facing the sector.
In partnership with Series Mania, Variety hosted the first edition of the Variety TV Summit, with round-table discussions and industry gatherings with numerous guests.