Three series from strong creative voices – Shane Meadows’ “The Virtues,” Nir Bergman’s “Just for Today” and the Fabrice Gobert-directed, and Netflix-backed, “Mytho” – shared major honors at an enlarged, hectic 10th Series Mania, now firmly established in festival, industry and discussion forum terms as one of the major TV events in Europe.
A story of redemption, unexpected love and imperfect fatherhood – a growing trend among drama series, Eurodata TV’s Avril Blondelot said at Series Mania – “The Virtues” won the Series Mania Grand Prix and best actor for Stephen Graham, a standout in Meadows’ “This is England,” who puts in profoundly affecting performance, by common consensus, as Joseph, a man who travels to Ireland to confront the demons left by a childhood in its care-system.
“From the first frame, ‘The Virtues’ moves you with its deep humanity. Masterfully directed, written and acted, the show is a prime example of the power of series television to illuminate and create empathy,” the International Competition jury, led by screenwriter-producer Marti Noxon, said in a statement, adding that Graham’s performance “is simply stunning. His powerfully raw portrayal of a man coming to grips with his past and himself is truly heart-breaking.”
Benefitting hugely from Meadows’ sustained use of 5-10 camera set-ups, which allowed him to “capture that one magical moment in time,” as he told Variety, and also choose what angle to portray it from, “The Virtues” is written with Jack Thorne, produced by Warp Films, airs shortly on the U.K.’s Channel 4 and is part of ITV Studios Global Ent.’s spring drama slate.
Co-created and directed by Bergman, the co-creator of “In Therapy,” adapted in the U.S as “In Treatment,” “Just for Today” won Series Mania’s Special Jury Prize.
Produced by Endemol Shine Israel for Yes TV, and sold internationally by Yes Studios, “Just for Today” adds a social edge to Bergman’s work, delivering a severe critique of Israel’s parole system, detailing the life, after exhaustive research, at a South Tel Aviv ex-cons’ rehabilitation center.
A psychological drama asking how much people can change their lives, Bergman told Variety, it explores this on a parallel romantic level in its story of the hostel’s director who’s been paying emotional penance for years after shopping a ward, a Russian immigrant and the love of her life. Suddenly, once more out of jail, he appears at the hostel.
“Suspenseful, touching and full of heart, Just for Today is a beautifully realized portrait of newly released prisoners and the social workers assigned to help them adjust to life on the outside,” Series Mania’s International Competition jury said in a statement. .
Commissioned by French-German broadcaster Arte, sold by Federation Entertainment and to be released outside France and Germany by Netflix, the idiosyncratic drama-comedy “Mytho” proved a breakout audience hit at Series Mania. Produced by Unité de Production (“Razzia,” “The Churchmen,”), written by Anne Berest (“Paris Etc.”) and directed by Gobert, creator of “Les Revenants,” “Mytho” won Series Mania’s Audience Award and best actress plaudit for Marina Hands (“Tell No One,” “Lady Chatterly”) who, ignored by hubby and offspring, announces she has cancer. The family’s life will never be the same.
“Marina Hands’ delicate, compassionate performance commands every frame of ‘Mytho.’ Funny, genuine and sly, she makes the show an undeniable delight,” the jury declared.
Of other prizes, Arte France scored once more with “Apnea,” produced by Image et Compagnie, sold by Lagardere Studios Distribution, and acquired by Amazon Prime Video for France.
A reworking of the mermaid myth, cast in a murder mystery set in a quaint fishing village on a Mediterranean isle, and starring Laetitia Casta and Noée Abita, “Apnea” won best picture in French Competition. France 2’s “Super Jimmy,” a buddy cop comedy, won Carole Weyers (“Manhattan”) best actress; Gregory Montel scooped actor for M6’s “Family Shake,” about the tribulations of a second-marriage couple.
Doing thing to damage the idea that some of the best scripted series in Scandinavia are now coming out ofNorway, produced by Fremantle Norway, NRK’s “Exit,” an acid tragicomic depiction of Norway’s financial elite, won best series in a highly competitive international panorama, featuring series such as Yes Studios’ “Asylum City” and Sky Deutschland’s “Eight Days.”
Series Mania’s Short Forms competition was won by “People Talking,” from Spain’s Atresmedia, described by its jury, as “a bold and modern concept, perfectly suited to the short format. ‘Black Mirror’ but on the tender side. A series that goes so far in so little time. Funny, sincere and incredibly deep.”
2019 SERIES MANIA WINNERS:
“The Virtues,” (Shane Meadows, Jack Thorne, U.K.)
Special Jury Prize
“Just for Today” (Nir Bergman, Ram Nehari, Israel)
MARINA HANDS (“MYTHO,” FRANCE)
Stephen Graham (“The Virtues”)
“Mytho,” (Anne Berest, Fabrice Gobert, France)
“Apnea,” (Gaia Guasto, Aurélien Molas, Simon Moutaïrou, Marcia Romano)
Carole Weyers (“Super Jimmy”)
Gregory Montel (“Family Shake”)
“Exit” (Petter Testmann-Koch, Øystein Karlsen, Norway)
SHORT FORMS COMPETITION
“People Talking,” (Alvaro Carmona, Spain)
ALL-NIGHT COMEDY MARATHON
“M’entends-tu”? (Florence Longpré, Canada)