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Berlinale Series Market Kicks Off With Spirited Opening Night

A wet, windy night couldn’t dampen the mood at the opening reception of the Berlinale Series Market and Conference, the Berlin Film Festival’s popular three-day TV strand that kicked off Monday Feb. 24  with a full house at the Gropius Mirror Pavilion.

Among those in attendance (pictured, from left) were European Film Market director Matthijs Wouter Knol, Berlin Film Festival co-director Mariette Rissenbeek, and Film- und Medienstiftung NRW CEO Petra Müller.

Now in its sixth year, the Berlinale Series Market has become a fixture on the global TV industry circuit, said the EFM topper. “It feels like an event that has established [itself],” said Knol, “when we look at the amount of people attending, the buyers attending, companies attending, and also people recognizing and acknowledging that the Series Market within the EFM has become a very substantial part of their business [during the market].”

This year’s edition has brought considerable star power to the red carpet outside Berlin’s Zoo Palast, the annual home of Berlinale Series Market. Some of the most anticipated titles to get a glitzy launch this week include Cate Blanchett’s Australian series “Stateless,” about four strangers fleeing difficult pasts cross paths in an immigration detention center in the Australian desert, and Jason Segel’s AMC series “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” an anthology about an enigmatic institute that promises a chosen few an escape from everyday life.

Segel kicked off a packed session of panel discussions, market screenings and gala premieres on Monday with a keynote address that addressed the challenges he’s faced working within the Hollywood studio system. Other highlights on Day One included a panel on how the streaming revolution has upended the global TV industry, a preview of hotly anticipated new German series, and a new look at the upcoming Studiocanal series from Tandem. Berlin-set period drama “Shadowplay.”

The growing strength of the annual TV confab has made it more than just a sidebar to the Berlin Film Festival, with many attendees arriving in Berlin over the weekend with their eyes set squarely on the series market. The success of both events, said Knol, go hand in hand. “The festival benefits from that, with great titles and great talent coming to Berlin. And the market benefits from that because of a healthy influx of new people.”

It’s the first edition of the Berlinale Series under Julia Fidel, who took over as the section’s head from Solmaz Azizi last year. Earlier in the week, Fidel told Variety: “I really like what Solmaz did here. I thought she did an amazing job, so I never I wanted to change everything. I came here to protect and continue what she built up here and then give it my own mark.”

The reception was co-hosted by Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the Ministry of Culture, Art and Heritage Chile and CinemaChile, with Variety as media partners.

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