Liat Benasuly’s “District Y,” Alon Aranya’s “Atrocity” and the singular “Sixteen,” from Australia’s Madman Production Co., feature among 16 projects to be pitched at the 6th European Project and Talent Forum, the central industry event at preeminent French TV festival Series Mania.
Backed by the French government and relocated from Paris to Lille, a burgeoning regional culture hub in North-East France, and overseen by Francesco Capurro, the Forum unspools May 2-4.
Beyond at best the scantest of details, very little is known about any of the projects at the Co-Pro Pitching Session, a major attraction of the Forum, with Series Mania announcing just titles and production companies on Tuesday. The pedigree of producers or creative talent behind some of the 16 highlighted titles, however, is likely to attract considerable interest.
“District Y” is produced by Israel’s Benasuly, producer of Netflix breakout “Fauda,” an jihadist manhunt thriller of gritty naturalism sometimes cited as among Netflix’s best foreign-language series. “Atrocity” is written by “Hostages” co-creator Alon Aranya and Pieter Bart Korthuis, creator of Dutch hit “Penoza.”
One example: “CCLXX” teams Spain’s Mediapro, an international force in premium series production with dramas with Netflix (Daniel Burman’s “Edha”), Amazon Prime Video (on Manchester City and Spain’s Liga) and HBO (“The Young Pope”), and Italy’s Palomar, producer of Italian classic “Montalbano,” but now moving into more international drama productions such as “Gaddafi,” with eOne, and “The Name of the Rose,” with Germany’s Tele Munchen Group.
“Crimeshare” is made by Anagram Norway, established in 2016 by Anne Kolbjørnsen and Ole Marius Araldsen, formely at Rubicon, the company behind Netflix’s “Lilyhammer.”
Chosen from 370 submitted projects, the selection underscores the continuing power balance in recent international production with Scandinavia accounting for nearly one third of selected titles.
Most Scandinavian titles in the cut go beyond the parameters of Nordic Noir. One case in point: “With One Eye Open – Max Anger Series.” Set up at Nice Drama, the Swedish production partner on “Midnight Sun,” it adapts an entry in Martin Österdahl novel saga about enigmatic Swedish agent Max Anger, battling Russian forces of evil.
The line-up also highlights the continuing lure of drama series creation for talents from outside the sector. Turning on opera, “Showtime” is written by Angelin Preljocaj, who worked as a choreographer at the Paris Opera Ballet. “Pandemia” marks a move into TV drama production by experienced French movie producer Eric Névé (“Dobermann,” “Female Agents”). “Fixed” is produced by London’s Origin Pictures, launched by former BBC Films head David Thompson.
Some series have clear social point. Produced by Iceland’s Vesturport (“Prisoners”) and winner of this year’s Series Mania Award at the CoPro Series, “Black Port,” part of the Berlinale Drama Series Days, “Black Port” chronicles how a crisis in Iceland’s fishing industry erodes a married couple’s relationship.
Other projects attempts to balance a thriller narrative with social observance. A crime thriller produced by Brussels’ AT Prod, “Inheritance” centers on two petty criminals on the trail of the loot from a heist of the century, but is set in Brussels’ high-rise immigrant district.
Described by its production house, Finland’s Vertigo” as an “adventure drama” but also a “modern Grimm fairy tale about love, friendship and survival,” “Layla” is based on Jari Tervo’s novel, takes place between Turkey and Finland and unspools against a background of human trafficking and prostitution.
Maybe the most singular of Forum projects about which something is known hails from Australia. Created by Veronica Gleeson at Madman Production Company, “Sixteen” turns on 16 girls who disappear on a three-night hike. They return pregnant – carrying a new species, the synopsis runs. In a country where race issues still run deep, that set-up of course carries a larger social resonance.
A five-member jury, presided over by Gaumont deputy CEO Christophe Riandee, with the other members to be announced shortly, will determine this year’s best project from the 16 pitches and award the winner a €50,000 ($62,000) Grand Prize.
“Now in its sixth year, the Forum has become known as the ‘springboard for the series of tomorrow’ and we are honored with this moniker,” said Laurence Herszberg, general director of Series Mania.
She added: ““The Forum continues to get bigger and better each year and we are expecting over 1,000 international TV series professionals this May.”
2018 SERIES MANIA EUROPEAN PROJECT AND TALENT FORUM
“A Long Night in Paris,” (Keshet International, Israel, France)
“Atrocity,” (Fiction Valley BV, Netherlands)
“Black Port,” (Vesturport, Iceland)
“CCLXX,” (Palomar, Italy, Mediapro, Spain)
“Crimeshare,” (Anagram Norway, Norway)
“District Y,” (L. Benasuly Productions, Israel)
“Fixed,” (Origin Pictures, United Kingdom)
“Immunity,” (Jumpseat Filmproduktion, Real Film Berlin, Germany)
“Inheritance,” (AT-Prod, Belgium)
“Layla,” (Vertigo, Finland)
“Pandemia,” (Indie Prod, France)
“Showtime,” (Everbody on Deck, France)
“Sixteen,” (Madman Production Co., Australia)
“The Lobbyists,” (Jérico TV, France, Belgium)
“We Got This!” (Jarowskij Sverige AB, Sweden)
“With One Eye Open – Max Anger Series,” (Nice Drama, Sweden)