Canneseries: 8 Things It Said About International Drama

From women sticking out to men to Exotic Noir

CANNES — Canneseries suggested we are “living in a golden age of global television,” said Harlan Coben, emphasizing the world “global.” Here, extrapolating from its series , are 8 trends in global drama:


Women are sticking it to men. Sometimes quite literally, as in “Killing Eve,” where Jodie Comer’s Villanelle, a brilliant, if nonchalant, female assassin, finds an original use for a hair-pin and an Italian mobster’s left eye. “Bullets,” from Finland’s Vertigo, which won the sneak-peek MipDrama Buyers Summit Coup de Coeur, forefronts two strong women – an undercover cop, an ex-terrorist – in a series which is both high-octane political thriller and a female friendship drama. “Angelica,” one of the most liked projects at In Development, is set at the last abortion clinic in a conservative U.S. state which becomes a flashpoint for broader divisive social confrontation. Of the 12 drama series projects presented at In Development, there’s a pretty even gender balance in lead characters: Only three feature sole male protagonists, seven balance men and women, two – “Angelica” and “Whatever, Linda” have largely female ensemble casts.  In Canneseries competition, “State of Happiness” recasts traditional women’s melodrama bears – interclass love, restrictive parents –  in a drama which seeks to explain the modernization of Norway through the broadening romantic prospects of its two female leads.


Europe’s pay TV riposte to OTT platform disruption has been years in the making. At least in a local industry context, continental free-to-air broadcast nets is where the real action may now be taking place. Much of this comes down to scheduling. Two Canneseries entries are cases in point. “The Typist” may be German pubcaster ZDF darkest primetime series to date, featuring, yes, a beloved and glamorous German TV star, Iris Berben, but as a haggard homicidal police criminal interrogation officer. Scheduling “The Typist” in primetime “is a big step forward that ZDF is consciously taking,” said Jan Motjo, at Beta Film. Hailed as a watershed production for Italian pubcaster Rai, Canneseries’ Italian competition entry, inspired by a real-life crackdown of the Mafia, “The Hunter” features a Palermo prosecutor hero who has flaws, “so that you don’t know if he’s driven by his sense of justice…or just his huge ambition,” Rai Fiction chief Eleonora Andreatta told Variety. Narration is much more modern and faster than the typical Rai product,”added Mojto. Aired on Rai’s Rai’s Rai 2 channel, it’s prime time slot is bold due to the show’s unprecedented blood and violence quotient for prime time, including bodies chopped up with axes or dissolved in acid vats, Variety reported.


The big prize, best series, went to Israel’s “When Heroes Fly,” further recognition for one if the most courted of Israeli talents, Omri Givon, who created, wrote and directed the action drama of the devastating effect on a command unit of an ambush at the tail-end of the 2006 Lebanon war, which leaves there leader dead, and other unit members physically or psychically wounded. Full on and brutal in action, broad-canvased – the action soon shifts to Colombia – and liberal in conscience, “When Heroes Fly” was, with “Killing Eve,” the most buzzed-up of Canneseries Official Selection titles. A second Israeli series, “Miguel,” about a gay man’s crusade to adopt a child, written by Daphna Levin (“In Treatment,” “Euphoria”) took a special performance prize.


The diaspora from film to TV keeps on flowing. “When Heroes Fly” is the first TV drama from Eitan Mansuri’s Spiro Films, (“Foxtrot,” “Lebanon”). At Canana, Gael Garcia Bernal made just one TV series, “Soy tu fan”. At La Corriente del Golfo, his new company with Diego Luna, it’s the first thing he’s made: an 8-part political thriller, “Here on Earth,” co-produced with Fox Networks Group Latin America, which raises the bar for Mexican scripted TV. Also in Canneseries competition, “Felix” is the first drama series from Cesc Gay, one of Spain’s most popular upscale movie directors, a Spanish Academy best picture winner for “Truman.”


The telcos are coming, at least in some territories. “Felix” is a Telefonica’s Movistar + series. Between them, Movistar + and Finland’s Elisa Vihde accounted for three of the six titles in the MioDrama Buyers’ Summit, which ran parallel to Canneseries’: Movistar +’s trenchant family drama-thriller “Gigantes,” marked by José Coronado’s central performance as an appallingly authoritarian drug family patriarch; the Lagardere-sold “Arctic Circle,” a Nordic Noir – a body is found unconscious in a lonely cabin – that broadens into a virus-thriller; and the section’s eventual Buyers’ Coup de Coeur winner: “Bullets,” from “Bordertown’s” co-scribe Antii Pesonen, a women-driven political thriller.


If Canneseries had a buzz word, it was “authentic.” Five of the 10 competition titles were inspired by true events or phenomena, or start in them: Corruption and the near surreal wealth of Mexico’s ruling elite (“Here on Earth”); Israel’s 2006 Lebanon War (“When Heroes Fly”); Belgium as the Colombia of the world’s ecstasy trade (“Undercover”); Norway’s 1969 oil strike. Fact may not only be stranger than fiction – as in the face-off between two Chinese lab techies which kicks off “Undercover.” It also also audience-friendly, helping viewers to navigate a vastly complex and confusing contemporary world.


The real challenge facing international scripted drama isn’t finance: It’s accessing world-class talent, especially screenwriters, an excellent In Development financing round-table concluded. So key companies used panels or presentations or announcements at to talk up what they could offer talent,, where creative freedom (Movistar +) or a share of series rights (Federation Ent., Fabula)


“The darker shows used to come mainly from Scandinavia. Now you see any country in the world is doing darker shows, sometimes with twists. Like exotic noir,” said Avril Blondelot, at Eurodata TV Worldwide, citing “When Heroes Fly.”

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