You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Series Mania Marks 10th Anniversary With Star-Studded Return to Lille

Series Mania will present a starry tableau for its 10th anniversary, as it returns to Lille for the second time at the end of March. Ava DuVernay and Greg Berlanti’s CBS anthology series “The Red Line” is set to open the French TV festival, and Amazon’s “Hanna,” featuring “The Killing” stars Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos, will close. Ted Sarandos is giving a keynote at the industry arm of the festival, while Jordan Peele’s “The Twilight Zone” reboot will premiere two episodes, with actor Adam Scott delivering a masterclass after the screening. “Black Mirror” creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones; “The Good Doctor” star Freddie Highmore; and Uma Thurman, whose Netflix series “Chambers” is the only U.S. show in the 10-title competition, are also set to deliver masterclasses while in attendance.

It is no coincidence that these stars are flocking March 22-30 to northeast France.

“When Series Mania was held in Paris we were really focused on the professional activities and on showrunners and script writers,” says Laurence Herszberg, the event’s founder and managing director. “By moving to Lille, the focus is more on talent. We really expanded the festival by going there.”

The main reason for the event’s evolution into a bona fide celebrity attraction, Herszberg says, is that unlike when Series Mania was a small part of a bustling capital, the festival now takes over the town of approximately 230,000 inhabitants, making it a city-wide event.
“The audience there is one of the most welcoming,” he says. “It’s a celebration for the public. They see all the big stars that they like, French and international, and we know how to curate series from all over the world.”

For the talent, such as returning attendee Julianna Margulies, who this year serves as a member of the jury, artistic director Frederic Lavigne says the experience offers something different from other industry events in its ability to dig deep into the artistic process.

“What strikes me every year is that the talent is very happy to get questions from the audience and from us, the artistic team, while on stage,” Lavigne says. “The types of questions they receive at the festival goes really deep into the artistic values of their work. In France, series are really works of art, so we go quite deep into the artistic process. The questions are much deeper than what they are used to at events where you have to sell the series and promote them.”

Herszberg and Lavigne understand the importance of high-profile guests and programming, and how it elevates a festival.

“You need the media to make people aware of the festival,” Herzberg says. “To get the media, you have to have big stars. To have big stars, they have to know that the experience is going to be useful for them and the show that they are representing. Producers want to be in the lineup because they know that being at Series Mania or having an award at Series Mania creates buzz much faster and it’s easier for them to sell the show.”

The star-studded nature of the festival does not hurt smaller, harder-to-find series, the organizers say.

“It’s a synergy,” Herszberg says. “People are ready for discoveries and that’s what makes this festival unique. We won’t give up on selecting niche shows and really going all over the world to discover new trends in creativity.”

The founder is always surprised to see the audience go from a celebrity-anchored event to a screening of a more obscure entry, but has seen it enough times to know it happens.

“We’re known for selecting big shows and new discoveries,” he says. “What’s amazing about Lille and this audience is that they will go from one to the other.”

The inclusion of shows from Russia and Asia in Series Mania is as much a source of pride for Herszberg and Lavigne as landing the premiere for “Chambers,” a YA thriller from Stephen Gaghan and Turner’s multi-platform Super Deluxe, in which a young heart attack patient begins to take on the sinister characteristics of her deceased heart donor.

“A Netflix show is quite tricky to obtain so we are proud of that,” Lavigne says. “And we are proud of the world premieres.” Those include the much-anticipated Netflix series “Osmosis” and Amazon’s “Une Ile,” both in French competition.

The importance of having your series play internationally is not lost on those participating.

“To win would mean that we transcended international cultural boundaries,” says “Chambers” creator Leah Rachel.

As “The Red Line” premieres at Lille, series star Emayatzy Corinealdi says that a show about racial tension in Chicago can be just as relevant in France as on home turf. “Really, at the heart of ‘The Red Line,’ it’s about people,” she says. “People make mistakes. People see injustices that happen and try to do something about them, even if they don’t exactly know what. You get to understand the grief of a family and get behind the walls of the cops who were in these situations. I think those are the kinds of things that we could all experience. The more people you can be in conversation with, the better.”

Adds “Sharp Objects” creator Marti Noxon, who also serves as head of the jury this year, “I feel like [‘Sharp Objects’] starts rich conversations. Exposing it in a venue like Series Mania gives me another opportunity to hear about what works and what we could have done better.”

Both Rachel and Noxon heard about the festival from their colleagues,
who describe it as “absolutely electric.”

“I spoke to Chris Brancato [“Narcos: Mexico”], who went last year. He said it was really enriching,” says Noxon. “I was excited about the prospect of viewing new content and meeting people whose work I’ve admired. I always get so much out of meeting new artists and our conversations about the craft of making television.”

As Series Mania celebrates its 10-year anniversary, its founder is thrilled that there is a high-profile forum in which dialogue about the direction TV is headed is fully embraced by its participants.

Says Herszberg: “We’re very proud to have been the first one to see that something was happening in series television and you could create a festival and a celebration out of this kind of creativity for an audience, professionals, and all the decision makers around the world.”

More TV

  • Westworld Season 3 Trailer

    'Westworld' Season 3 Trailer Focuses on New Cast Member Aaron Paul

    Ahead of the final episode of “Game of Thrones,” HBO released the first trailer for the new season of another flagship show: “Westworld.” The first look at the third season of the sci-fi show puts the focus on new series regular Aaron Paul, best known for his run on “Breaking Bad.” The trailer doesn’t reveal [...]

  • Adam Lambert Libertine show, Front Row,

    Adam Lambert Does Double Performing Duty on 'Idol' as New Winner is Crowned

    A new “American Idol” winner was crowned Sunday night, but not before Adam Lambert returned to the stage for the season finale for a pair of performances that included his new single and a duet with eliminated contestant Dimitrius Graham Sunday. The show concluded with Louisiana teen Laine Hardy showered in confetti as he was [...]

  • Beyonce Emilia Clarke

    Emilia Clarke Worried Beyonce Would Hate Daenerys After 'Game of Thrones'' Final Season

    After eight seasons as the Mother of Dragons, “Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke has a lot of celebrity fans. But the most impressive? Probably Queen Bey. In a New Yorker interview posted after Sunday night’s series finale, Clarke revealed that she met Beyonce at an Oscars after-party hosted by the musician and her husband, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    Why the 'Game of Thrones' Finale Couldn't Have Satisfied Everyone

    The “Game of Thrones” finale may have achieved a strange feat: Aiming for fan service while being constrained, by its very nature, to the reality that it would end up pleasing only very few. The episode was larded with character touches designed for devotees — from a title, at long last, for fan favorite Bronn, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Finale

    'Game of Thrones': Celebrity Fans Have Mixed Reaction to Series Finale

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the series finale of “Game of Thrones,” titled “The Iron Throne.”  Whether you loved it or hated it, the series finale of “Game of Thrones” was one for the history books. After the final episode aired Sunday night, fans across the globe took to [...]

  • ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments

    ‘Game of Thrones’: 8 Shocking Moments From the Finale

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen the finale of “Game of Thrones.” Well, that’s it. After the “Game of Thrones” finale, many of us will likely emulate Jon Snow and just retire North of the Wall. It was billed as one of the biggest events in TV history, and showrunners [...]

  • Front row: CBS THIS MORNING co-hosts

    CBS Hurls New Anchor Team Into TV's Morning-News Wars

    News Team: Assemble. CBS News plans to hurl a new anchor squad into TV’s morning-news wars Monday when a different trio – Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil –  takes the helm at “CBS This Morning.” The A.M. effort that has won critical plaudits by focusing on harder news topics, like international affairs and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content