Period tragicomedy “Blackport,” backed by Icelandic public broadcaster RUV and European network Arte, won top honors on Thursday at leading European TV festival Series Mania taking its Grand Prize.
The biggest plaudit at Lille’s Series Mania represents the festival’s second prize for the series after it awarded it best pitch kudos at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series in 2018.
“Blackport” represents a deep-dive into recent Icelandic history, kicking off in 1983 as a quota system is introduced in Iceland to protect fish stock, with ships being granted fishing rights based on their most recent three-year history.
Half family saga, half tragic farce, “Blackport” records how Harpa, a village council secretary builds a local fishing empire in a stunning western fjord but at an ever larger cost as the decade plays out.
Shot on location and based on true fact, “Blackport” oozes two of the calling cards of contemporary drama series: a sense of authentic local detail and a lid-lifting on a little known period in European history. About Premium Content handles international rights.
Also a competition frontrunner, “Kamikaze,” HBO Max’s first Danish Original Series, scooped best actress for Marie Reuther, who delivers a tearaway and vastly ranging performance as Julie, a rich 18 year-old online fashion influencer and loving daughter whose life is suddenly eviscerated when her whole family is wiped out in an air crash in Africa.
Seeking a sense to life, or death in an air accident, she travels the world from Seoul to London and Mexico and finally, in an narrative stretch which punctuates the whole series, the sandy wastes of the Sahara desert.
Written by Johanne Algren, directed by Kaspar Munk and produced by Ditte Milsted for Profile Pictures, “Kamikaze” offers a pained vision of grief and morning which is also high-energy fun.
Best actor went to the main ensemble cast – Itamar Rotschild, Orr Amrami and Shmuel Vilozni – of Israel’s “The Echo of Your Voice.” Created, written and directed by Tom Shoval (“Youth”), and produced by Jasmine TV for Kan 11 TV, the dramedic musical turns on a musician, living in tight shadow of his genius pop composer father who realizes with horror that his own son may have inherited his grand-father’s talent.
Logical enough, given the historic past of Lille as the center of France’s largest historic mining basin, Series Mania’s Audience Award went to “Germinal,” a pulsating adaptation by Banijay Studios France and France Televisions of the Zola classic in collaboration with RAI Fiction. Created and co-written by Thomas Lilti, ita scale and across-the-board production values is a sign of the large ambition which France Televisions is bringing to The Alliance, its partnership with Germany’s ZDF and Italy’s RAI.
Outside main competition, in International Panorama, the best series award went to “The Last Socialist Artefact,” created by Croatia’s Ankica Juric Tilic, which was sparking string word-of-mouth among those who caught it, above all for the depth of its characterization.
Underscoring that award winning series can come from anywhere, the section’s Special Jury Prize went to Colombian David David’s “A Colorful Life,” which breaks ground coming at the Colombia’s conflict from the perspective of gender minorities and a regional focus.
Series Mania 2021 Prize Winners:
“Blackport,” (Gísli Örn Gardarsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Maria Reyndal, Iceland)
Marie Reuther (“Kamikaze,” Kaspar Munk, Denmark)
An ensemble prize to Itamar Rotschild, Orr Amrami and Shmuel Vilozni (“The Echo of Your Voice,” Tom Shoval, Israel)
“The Last Socialist Artefact,” (Ankica Juric Tilic, Croatia)
Special Jury Prize
“Vida de colores,” (David David, Colombia)
Best Series (Student Award)
“We Are Lady Parts (Nida Manzoor, U.K:)
“Jeune et Golri,” ( Agnès Hurstel, Victor Saint Macary, Léa Domenach)
Ariane Labed (“L’Opéra,” Cécile Ducrocq, Benjamin Adam)
Daniel Njo Lobé (“The Code,” Lionel Olenga, Cécile Even, Nicolas Robert)
Pierre Leroux (Pierre III) “Jeune et Golri”
“Fisk,” (Kitty Flanagan, Vincent Sheehan, Australia)
Short Forms Competition
“Something Undone,” (Michael Musi, Madison Walsh, Canada)
“Germinal,” (Julien Lilti, France)