PARIS– Benoit Louvet, a former key executive at TF1 Group, the parent company of leading commercial channel TF1, has joined the Cannes International Series Festival as managing director.

Although details on his role will be unveiled at a press conference on April 3 (the opening day of MipTV), Louvet is expected to be in charge of its programming and artistic direction.

Louvet previously headed the commercial branch of TF1, TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, and the network’s co-production arm, TF1 Films Prods. During his tenure at TF1, Louvet held different roles and notably spearheaded the acquisitions of French and international series and films for the network and as well as TF1 Groupe’s distribution and international film sales division.

Initiated by the city of Cannes and its mayor David Lisnard, the Cannes International Series Festival will run alongside MipTV, the Cannes-set global TV showcase, and will kick off in 2018.

As announced last week, Fleur Pellerin, France’s former minister of culture and communication, will preside the association of the Cannes International Series Festival.

The French Riviera series festival benefits from a pair of high-profile backers: pay TV company Canal Plus, which is already a partner of Cannes Film Festival, and Reed Midem, the organizer of MipTV and Mipcom.

The news of Pellerin joining the fest didn’t go unnoticed in France. Pellerin had initiated discussions with Series Mania, another TV drama festival, in Paris to expand it into a world-class festival when she was culture minister, in 2015.

Following Pellerin’s exit from the government in 2015, the project was picked up by French officials who had specially appointed panel short list potential host cities and excluded Cannes earlier this year. Although Lille and Paris made it on the short list, the government has not communicated on further developments since the city of Cannes announced its festival. Some industry insiders predict French officials have put the project in limbo due to the upcoming presidential election and might be dropped after all.