As a growing clutch of earlier events postpone to later in the year, major French TV festival Canneseries is holding firm, returning to its traditional mid-April dates — in this case April 9-14 — for its fourth edition in 2021, which will be a hybrid affair.
The third Cannes Intl. Series Festival ran Oct. 9-14 onsite in Cannes, attracting an unexpected influx of French industry executives accompanying titles at the festival who were delighted to be attending an on-site event again.
It also launched an online version for executives unable to attend in person, screening all competition contenders via Festival Scope to industry execs, the press and a limited public audience of 2,000 viewers in and sometimes outside France.
In a classic example of a festival carrying over online elements into 2021, Canneseries is planning a second hybrid event with on-site screenings at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals for the TV festival’s Official Selection line-up, as well as public meetings at the Croisette’s Espace Miramar.
However, the event will retain its online screenings in exactly the same format as this year. Depending on the title, 2,000 members of the general public will be able to watch the Official Selection in France, or split between France and territories abroad, Canneseries general manager Benoît Louvet told Variety.
Next April’s Canneseries will also maintain its Writers’ Club, inaugurated this year. A reportedly roaring success, it allowed 40 drama series scribes, mostly from France, to meet in person at Cannes. There they exchanged experience and best-practices on such wide-ranging topics as the incorporation of environmental themes into narratives and drive towards gender parity in writer’s rooms.
Next year, Canneseries aims to expand writers’ countries of origin to multiple other territories, Louvet said. It will also maintain its experiment this year of screening the first episode of Official Selection short series before longer main competition titles, which proved highly successful, he added.
Starring “Game of Thrones’” Carice van Houten and actor-turned-producer Halina Reijn, “Red Light,” a murder mystery set in Amsterdam’s dowdy red light district, won best ensemble cast at October’s Canneseries. It was one of six series in main competition, out of a total lineup of 10 titles that featured female protagonists. Albin Lewi, Canneseries artistic director, said he would like to take this drive towards inclusivity several steps further in next year’s edition featuring series with transgender characters or people of color.
Also, though he had not as yet selected a single title for 2021, Lewi said he also hoped to include more series from Latin America and Asia in next year’s competition.
Such titles had been present in prior editions and indeed figured in the planned April 2020 main competition which had to be pushed back to October, losing Chilean-German series “Dignity” among main competition contenders. October’s competition featured just one title from outside Europe, “Losing Alice,” a sexual psychodrama from Israel’s Sigal Avin.
Lewi added he was receiving conflicting signs, according to territory, of the impact of COVID-19 on the number of completed shows which may be available for selection. “I think production will eventually catch up. I’m very confident about next year’s edition, but it’s too early to talk about precise COVID-19 impact,” Lewi said.
The Canneseries Live Rendez-vous lineup of online masterclasses and talks — which this year featured “Dark’s” Jantje Friese and Baran Bo Odar, Darren Star, Sigourney Weaver, Gale Ann Hurd and Kyle MacLachlan — will also be retained in 2021.