CANNES — Two eagerly-anticipated shows which underscore the ambitions of high-end European TV drama – “Ride Upon the Storm,” from “Borgen” creator Adam Price, and “Babylon Berlin,” co-directed by “Cloud Atlas’” Tom Tykwer – topped Sunday’s Second MipDrama Screenings, the jewel in MipTV’s industry crown.
BBC’s “Clique,” Globo’s “Jailers” and “Missions,” airing on pay TV OCS in France, also scored prizes whose allotment underlined the current market demand, in the words of multiple jurors, for “bold,” “different” shows with distinctive voices.
On these scores, both ““Ride Upon the Storm” and “Babylon Berlin” delivered. Created and lead written by Price, “Ride Upon the Storm,” a contemporary faith-fused family drama sold by Studiocanal, won two of the three plaudits it competed for: Both the TV Critics’ Jury and Buyers’ Coup de Coeur Award for series screened as works in progress.
Sneak-peaked at Cannes via a 15-minute scene assembly and two-and-a-half minute trailer presented by Price and series star Lars Mikkelsen (“House of Caerds”), “Ride Upon the Storm” delivered stunningly shot scenes which ranged in setting and tenor from the family home of a minister of the Church of Denmark to the high Himalaya to a tense Middle East combat zone ambush which may end badly.
It also wowed a MipTV audience of buyers and press with its large production values and Mikkelsen’s tearaway performance as a Minister and father who is God-like to his two cowed sons who seek both freedom and approval from their father escaping from home, one as a military chaplain, the other wandering Tibet to find himself.
“‘Borgen’ was a feminist project but you could say for this story it was necessary to build into the masculine world of fathers and sons. It is a crucial and vital element of Christianity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Price commented on “Ride Upon the Storm” which is produced by DR Drama, the drama department of the famed Danish pubcaster, in co-production with Arte France and Sam Le Français, the French subsidiary of Sam Productions, launched by Price, “The Killing” creator Soren Svestrup and “Melancholia” producer Meta Louise Foldager.
“Babylon Berlin” scooped the Screenings Grand Jury Prize for Works in Progress, plus a honorary mention from a member of the Buyers Coup de Coeur Jury, who praised its sets and performances. Directed by Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten and produced by X-Filme Creative Pool, ARD Degeto, Sky and Beta Film, “Babylon Berlin” carries a €40 million ($42.6 million) cost tag. A big canvas noirish procedural, “Berlin Babylon” showed its budget in pretty well every frame of the 15 minutes shown in Cannes, taken from Episode 2, which unspool in a 1929 Berlin, a Babylon of sex, drugs, cabarets and crime where the Roaring Twenties are tipping into the far darker extremism which, as Tykwer reminded the audience, saw Hitler rise to power just three-and-a-half years later.
The big set piece seen at MipDrama unspools in a cool, cavernous cabaret bedecked by near naked dancing girls where the series’ heroine, a hostess with a line in kinky sex with clients, dances to a mustache-totting singer who sings about the world going to “to ashes, to dust” as he raises his arm in sensual Nazi salute. Meanwhile, police inspector Gereon Roth, who has a drug habit, is drafted into Berlin to aid its vice squad, and is plunged into crime cases which seem to reach right to the top of the political ladder.
Four years in preparation, “‘Babylon Berlin “represents a new way in Germany to realize high-intensity projects at a quality that is unlimitedly internally competitive,” a MipDrama brochure description reads.
Winner of the MipDrama Screenings Grand Jury Prize for a full episode screening, “Jailers,” a 12 hour penitentiary social-thriller from Globo and indie producer Gullane marks a drive by Brazil’s TV giant drives into unprecedented fiction formats, subjects and characters as it attempts, like former free-to-air market leaders around the world, to restructure as content powerhouses, and maintain traditional linear TV audiences while appealing to cordless millennials.
Such game-plans can so often fail in the execution. Not so with “Jailers,” however if the full episode screened at MipDrama Screenings is indicative of the whole first season. Showrun by Guel Arraes, Globo’s Chief Content Officer for series, and delivering some of the tensest scenes of any series at the Screenings, it tracks a a principled prison officer, Adriano who, in the midst of a prison riot, crosses the jail from one block to another to rescue the son of a block leader who has taken a prison guard hostage. Co-writer Fernando Bonassi talked on stage on Sunday of the “tragedy” of Brazil’s prisons. They yield natural white-knuckle drama as well.
Produced by Empreinte Digitale, and sold by AB Intyl. Distribution, “Missions” surprised Grand Jury member Frank Spotnitz by delivering a half-hour sci-fi adventure chronicling a French mission to Mars.
Seen at MipTV, Episode 1 narrates the final approach to the Red Planet and curiously, is as high on sexual as narrative tension, sparked by male crew members’ attraction towards the alluring woman spaceship psychiatrist on board. Just making Mars after capsule unlocking failure, but loosing contact with Earth, they look set in further episodes, to discover alive and un-aged Vladimir Komariv, the first Russian in space, who was killed in 1967.
The Screenings Buyers Coup de Coeur awardee for best full episode went to “Clique,” from the creator (Bryan Elsey) and writer (Jess Brittain) of “Skins.”
A six-part series made for BBC 3’s online-only viewing, as it, like Globo, reaches out to youth audiences, “Clique” is set at Edinburgh U where a first year student, the bubbly Georgia, is drawn into a clique of alpha-girls hand-picked for a career in finance – much to the horror of her childhood soulmate and fellow student, Holly. But the clique is underpinned by sordid compromise and Holly exposes its deeply corrupt core. Curiously, “Clique,”which is sold at MipTV by All3Media Intl., was one of two dramas at the Screenings, along with the Federation Ent.-sold “Bad Banks,” where powerful women, here a university lecturer, manipulate bright ambitious rookies who want fast-track careers to the top.