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French TV Drama Showcase Bows In L.A.

"The Returned" and "The Church Men" are among the series to be showcased at the two-day event

Just as French fiction reaches a new high with two international Emmy noms, the Ile de France Commission is joining forces with the French embassy in Los Angeles to bow Direct To Series, a two-day confab showcasing “la creme de la creme” of original Gallic skeins.

The initiative was unveiled on Tuesday at Mipcom, during a press luncheon hosted at the French Club, a new networking lounge located off of the Palais.

Set to take place in the run-up to the American Film Market, on Nov. 1-2 at the Pacific Design Center, Direct To Series will present “Candice Renoir,” produced by Boxer de Lune; “The Returned,” produced by Haut et Court ; period epic “Odysseus,” produced by Making Prod and GMT Prods.; “No Limit,” produced by EuropaCorp TV; “The Church Men,” produced by Arte France and Zadig Prods.; “Les Hommes de l’ombre,” produced by Macondo and Tetra Media Fiction; “Un Village Francais,” produced by Tetra Media Fiction. “The Tunnel,” co-produced by Canal Plus, SkyAtlantic HD, Shine France Films and Kudos, might also be added to the lineup.

“Our goal is to gather French and American showrunners, co-producers, buyers from networks and digital platforms all in one place  to create bridges between the two industries, encourage creative collaborations, transatlantic co-productions, sales opportunities, as well as promote French shooting locations,” said Olivier Rene Veillon, managing director of the Ile de France Commission, adding that approximately 250 participants are expected.

This year has been golden for Gallic fiction productions. Along with “Maison Close,” “Braquo,” “Spiral” and “Pigalle, La Nuit,” “The Returned” is the latest in a string of Canal Plus series to have sold worldwide. “The Returned” sold to the U.S. with Sundance Channel taking TV rights and Music Box Films nabbing home entertainment rights; and it was just nominated for an international Emmy nod, along with another Canal Plus skein, “Working Girl.”

“For the past three or four years we’ve been having at least one French series nominated for the international Emmy awards and that’s definitely a sign that our fiction production has gotten richer and more compelling,” pointed Veillon.

The U.S. market has traditionally been a difficult market for French fiction TV exports but a crop of recent local shows have found a home Stateside, in large parts driven by digital platforms like Netflix and Hulu that dare to take risks on foreign-language skeins.

Zodiak Rights-repped crime series “Braquo,” for instance, sold to Hulu, while Netflix nabbed “Spiral,” which has been sold by Newen Distribution in 80 territories.

Attending the press luncheon, Newen topper Fabrice Larue also cited the growing international appeal of French fiction format illustrated by the pending U.S. deals of such Newen formats as spy drama “La Source” and cop series “Candice Renoir.”

Although the event is not designed as a market, key French production/sales/distribution groups will be present, notably Newen Distribution, EuropaCorp, Lagardere Ent. and Gaumont Intl. TV, per Mathieu Bejot, managing director of TV France Intl.

The confab is backed by the WGA, the DGA, SACD (society of authors, composers and directors), and TV France Intl., as well as Variety.


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