Lille’s Series Mania International Festival was one of the first major audiovisual industry events forced to go completely online in March as COVID-19 spread across Europe. Now, it is once again at the forefront of festival innovation as one of the first to implement long-term, digital initiatives inspired by its 2020 online experience.

Dates were also announced for the in-person 2021 edition of the festival which will run March 19-27, with the Series Mania Forum to be held in Lille’s Grand Palais March 23-25.

“In recent years, we have seen a major evolution in the audiovisual fiction landscape. First, is the significant increase in the volume of series. Second, iN the emergence of new working methods resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic which have both reinforced festivals as essential events and ‘rendezvous,’ but also confirmed the importance of online tools. Finally, there is the need expressed by the audiovisual sector to bring forward new voices, new talent and new projects,” said Series Mania general director Laurence Herszberg.

2021 will see the launch of the Series Mania Label, a permanent, year-round initiative through which the festival aims to develop notoriety and visibility for deserving series, based on recommendations from the festival’s screeners. Series receiving the mark of quality will be announced through the festival’s online profiles and screened at in-person premieres in Lille.

In September, Series Mania will expand its Series Mania Digital Forum, which will allow visitors to track how projects and talent featured at the live and online versions of the event are developing, view exclusive year-round webinars, training courses and more, and provide access to a rapidly growing network of international industry contacts.

As demand for global high-end TV has skyrocketed in recent years, so too has the need for well-trained creative talent. To that end, Series Mania today launched the Series Mania Institute, physically based in Lille, to help develop and train European professionals from the audiovisual industry. It’s only the latest program championed by the organization, following in the footsteps of the Series Mania Forum: UGC Writers Campus, SeriesLab (a TorinoFilmLab initiative), and the Israel-France Co-Writing Residency (a CNC and Gesher Multicultural Film Fund initiative).

According to today’s announcement, the institute’s three primary objectives are to build a network of future European creative talent; to unify all branches of the European series industry to create a stronger cohesive working culture; and to encourage emerging talent from diverse backgrounds and origins.

Series Mania Institute is organized in collaboration with La Fémis and supported by the CNC and Hauts-de-France Region. Beginning next year, several training courses will be held in Lille in coordination with partners to be announced later this year.

“We are pleased to contribute to the development of a European-ambition initiative in the area of series professionals,” said Nathalie Coste-Cerdan, managing director of La Fémis. “The Series Mania Institute is in line with what we think is needed for specific teaching on the serial genre and for European professionals to share their know-how.”

“Series Mania Lille-Hauts-de-France made the region a permanent crossroads for audiovisual talent and decision-makers,” added Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France Region. “With these new projects, Series Mania goes further in the creation process. The Series Mania Institute will allow us to boost specific training in audiovisual professions.”

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Laurence Herszberg Credit: Cécilia Garroni Parisi