Tuesday see’s the Berlin Film Festival play host to the sixth edition of its Co-Pro Series Pitch and Networking event, where 10 exciting TV projects from around the world will pitch to potential co-producers, investors, sales agents and broadcasters.
Under the umbrella of the Berlinale Co-Production Market – dedicated to connecting feature film producers and creators with international partners – the CoPro Series sessions have a similar aim but for TV projects.
Previous series to participate include Belgium’s “Tabula Rasa,” Norway and Belgium’s “State of Happiness” and Germany’s “Babylon Berlin.” Currently, Denmark’s “Cry Wolf” and Germany’s “Hausen” are in production, both having pitched at previous editions of CoPro Series.
This year’s selection demonstrates an impressive breadth of narrative themes, with many refusing to adhere to any specific genre profile, instead preferring to mix elements of humor, romance, drama, thrills and even a bit of science fiction.
After the project pitches, representatives will attend a networking event followed by prescheduled one-on-one meetings.
2020 CO-PRO SERIES PITCH PARTICIPANTS
“The King’s Wives,” Abbout Productions – Lebanon
One of four new series in development at Lebanon’s About Productions, “The King’s Wives” sees Academy Award-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad (“Paradise Now,” “Omar”) move into TV as writer-director of the project. In the series, a royal couple in a contemporary Kingdom in the Middle East work together to challenge the established monarchy and improve women’s rights across the country. When Princess Zein and Prince Malik have their third daughter together, leaving them with no male heir, the Royal Court imposes an ultimatum on the couple: either Malik marries additional wives and has a son, or his spot in the ascendancy will be given to his conservative brother.
“Babyland,” Agitprop – Bulgaria
Golden Bear-winning producer Martichka Bozhilova (“Touch Me Not”) produces this project from writers Simona Nobile and Dianne Jones, about a luxury hotel where surrogates give birth to children destined for infertile couples. Natasha, the head of the organization, leads a fulfilling life of matching the surrogate mothers and hopeful couples until a bomb goes off at the hotel which kicks off a series of crises that force her to compromise the integrity of the organization and herself. Creative Europe – MEDIA, Lumière in Belgium and Film UA in Ukraine will partner with Bulgaria’s Agitprop on the production.
“Precious,” Atlantic Films, Lemming Film – The Netherlands
Created by Joost van Gelder and written by J. David Guerra, both based in L.A., “Precious” is co- produced by Atlantic Films and Lemming Film in the Netherlands. Turning on the family of Gerson Metzger, a legendary Jewish diamond trader, the crime drama sees Metzger and his once-prestigious company, Precious LLC, in dire straits and deep debts. The elderly magnate plans to buy his way to absolution with a massive donation to his Rabi that could otherwise be used to save the family business for future generations, when he turns up dead on the eve of his 100th birthday.
“Capturing Big Mouth,” De Mensen – Belgium, Reel One Entertainment – U.K.
Since last year’s pitch at Series Mania, De Mensen and Reel One’s “Capturing Big Mouth” has expanded the original pitch to introduce a stronger British presence to the production, a fictionalized version of the real life events surrounding the eventual takedown of famed Somali pirate Big Mouth. In the series, Belgian counterterrorism officer Peter Van Osselaer and British-Somali former MI6 agent Naomi Abdallah join forces to chase down the pirate leader, who always manages to keep one step ahead of them. The series was created by Belgian screenwriter-director Hans Van Nuffel and writer Ahsan Naeem, who are developing several projects together.
“Dark Victory,” Goalpost Television – Australia
Helmed by award-winning Aussie writer-director Matthew Saville, “Dark Victory” is based on the best-selling novel of the same name and the true events which inspired it. A Norwegian container vessel on its way to Indonesia received a distress call to aid a dead-in-the-water fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean. After the rescue, Captain Arne Rinnan and his modest crew of 28 find themselves hosting 438 passengers in rough shape, only to be denied docking by the Australian government upon their arrival. Australia’s Goalpost Television, New Zealand’s South Pacific Pictures and Norway’s Maipo will co-produce.
“Pawns,” Metrafilms – Russia
Michael and Lily Idov, co-writers of 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or competitor “Leto,” and creators of two hugely popular Russian series in “Londongrad” and “The Optimists,” are in Berlin with their new project “Pawns.” Set in the middle of the Cold War, the KGB has recruited a timid chess pro named Max to aid in trapping a Western spy recruiter working out of Austria. When the sting goes badly, Max gets partnered with alpha-male spy-master Ivan to investigate, before the Soviet odd couple are joined by a young, leftist West German activist named Hanna. The series is produced by Russia’s Metrafilms, recently joined by Latvia’s Tasse Film.
“Transitniki,” Rohfilm Factory – Germany
From Germany’s Rohfilm Factory, “Transitniki” is a drama set behind the Iron Curtain in 1985. The series tracks groups of young East Germans, feeling trapped in their own country, who find a way to enter the Soviet Union illegally using transit visas and satiate their desires for travel and adventure. The series is written by an experienced trio of TV screenwriters in Heide Schwochow, Constantin Lieb and Christian Mackrodt. MDM is attached to co-produce.
“Signals,” Sagafilm – Iceland
Following a series of terrorist cyber-attacks which rock Reykjavík, reporter Salka and her live-in detective girlfriend Magnea’s relationship is strained when both begin to investigate the attacks. Magnea, already worried about the stir her non-conventional relationship will cause at work, has further stress added when she is accused of leaking info to Salka. Sagafilm produces for Icelandic broadcaster Channel 2, while iconic Icelandic filmmaker Óskar Jónasson will direct and is co-writing with an accomplished team including Margrét Örnólfsdóttir, Sjón and Jóhann Ævar Grímsson.
“Dome 16,” Tordenfilm – Norway
From International Emmy nominee Thomas Seeber Torjussen, this sci-fi project is set 120 years in the future in a world suffering from climate neglect. It follows 14-year-old Anton, who lives in a domed city which keeps pollution and radiation out, and Emma, also 14, who lives with her clan of extended family members outside the dome. Occasionally, Emma and her mother are allowed into Dome 16 for part-time menial labor, which is how the young girl meets Anton and the two embark on an opposite side of the tracks relationship. Norway’s Tordenfilm and Holland’s Big Blue produce for NRK.
“Snow,” Witcraft Filmproduktion – Austria
Set-up at Ursula Wolschlager’s (“Caviar,” “Mademoiselle Paradis”) Witcraft, “Snow” is a mystery drama from Michaela Taschek to be co-directed by Barbara Albert (“Mademoiselle Paradis”) and Sandra Wollner (“The Impossible Picture”). The series takes place in the mountain village of Rotten, which has lived off a snow and winter sports-based economy for years. The city has struggled as, over time, the snow level has dropped and new snow refuses to fall. So bad is the change in climate that a nearby glacier begins melting, uncovering the body of a woman wearing ‘80s clothing, the clear victim of a violent death. Lucia, a doctor recently moved to the town hoping to resuscitate her marriage, gets drawn into the case against her better judgement.