This year’s Berlinale Series has announced the section’s lineup of six titles.
The TV arm of the festival, which is being held online this year due to the pandemic, said the shows reflect “unconventional and surprising topics, narratives and visual style [that] comprise a mirror of our time.”
Latin American content is represented for the first time with the Argentinian HBO production “Entre hombres” (Amongst Men) and “Os últimos dias de Gilda” (The Last Days of Gilda) from Brazil. “Philly D.A.,” a U.S. production by Oscar-nominated duo Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, is the first documentary series to be invited into the program.
Separately, the Berlinale Series Market and Conference, the industry platform which is part of the European Film Market, has announced a newly created special label called “Berlinale Series Market Selects” that highlights series with high commercial potential within the “Berlinale Series Market” screenings.
Berlinale Series Market Selects titles span “Alive and Kicking,” the latest show from Spanish screenwriter Albert Espinosa, creator of Spain’s most successful drama format “Red Band Society,” and another YA series, “Echos,” about a group of witless upper-class socialites who discover an underworld beneath Munich, both sold by Germany’s Beta.
Product handled by German sales companies feature prominently in the Berlinale Series Market screenings. “Standing Tall” (Io ti cercherò) an Italian redemption drama sold by Germany’s ZDF Enterprises, centred on a former policeman’s unofficial investigation into his son’s death, has also made the Berlinale Series cut. Also from ZDF, in this year’s Berlinale Series Market screenings sidebar is “Grow,” written and directed by Milad Avaz and described as a fast-moving thriller about two brothers: one a cop, the other a drug lord, who are on a collision course.
Online confabs will open March 3 with a presentation of hot new British show “It’s a Sin,” created by Russell T. Davies (“Doctor Who,” “Queer as Folk”). Davies will hold a keynote speech.
Meanwhile, in a “Social Impact Storytelling” masterclass, Maurício Mota of U.S. company Wise Entertainment (“East Los High”) will discuss how “serial storytelling can change hardened perceptions and promote inclusion,” according to the fest.
U.K.-based analyst Guy Bisson of Ampere Analysis will hold a presentation on “global narrative trends and current facts,” followed by a debate by high-profile industry honchos about the influence of current world events on the detailed strategy of fiction content producers.
The Berlinale Co-Pro Series Market will see producers, distributors and financiers attending online pitches and meetings and will run March 2-5. The 10 high-profile projects selected for pitched this year, include a new series titled “Eldorado KaDeWe” from Julia von Heinz, who directed this year’s German Oscar entry “And Tomorrow The Entire World,” and “This is Music” an anthology show to be directed by Wim Wenders, Joachim Trier, and, interestingly, David Byrne.
Below is the full Berlinale Series lineup (descriptions provided by the Berlinale):
2021 Berlinale Series line-up
Entre Hombres (Amongst Men)
Director: Pablo Fendrik
with Gabriel Goity, Nicolás Furtado, Diego Velázquez, Diego Cremonesi, Claudio Rissi
4 episodes of 60’
A VHS recording of a senator participating in an orgy with a tragic ending unleashes a path of death, destruction and madness as he tries to recover the lost tape. It’s 1996, and the underground world of Buenos Aires is controlled by gangs and corrupt police officers.
Ich und die Anderen (Me and the Others)
Creator: David Schalko
Director: David Schalko
Cast: Tom Schilling, Lars Eidinger, Katharina Schüttler, Sophie Rois, Mavie Hörbiger, Martin Wuttke
6 episodes of 40’
What is the relationship between “I” and “the others”, and what would change if you could define the rules of the game at will? David Schalko’s absurd satire explores these questions with razor-sharp dialogue and a delight in escalation.
It’s a Sin
Creator: Russell T Davies
Showrunner: Russell T Davies, Nicola Shindler
Director: Peter Hoar
Cast: Olly Alexander, Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry, Keeley Hawes, Nathaniel Curtis, Lydia West, Callum Scott Howells, Omari Douglas
Broadcaster: Channel 4, HBO Max with All3Media International
5 episodes of 48’
A story of love, life and loss. A group of queer young men come together in London in the early 1980s. They are all searching for themselves and a future filled with freedom and love. But the onset of the AIDS crisis confronts them with harsh realities.
Os últimos dias de Gilda (The Last Days of Gilda)
Creator: Gustavo Pizzi
Director: Gustavo Pizzi
Cast: Karine Teles, Julia Stockler, Antonio Saboia, Ana Carbatti, Lucas Gouvêa
Broadcaster: Canal Brasil
4 episodes of 30’
Gilda loves cooking, men and life. But for her narrow-minded, religious neighbours this self-confident, independent woman who butchers pigs in her garden and has more than one lover, is increasingly becoming a thorn in the flesh.
Creators: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar
Directors: Ted Passon, Yoni Brook
Cast: Larry Krasner
8 episodes of 54’
Promising to reform law enforcement and reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, the progressive Larry Krasner is elected District Attorney of Philadelphia in late 2017. But his plans are not universally welcomed.
Snöänglar (Snow Angels)
Creator: Mette Heeno
Director: Anna Zackrisson
Cast: Josefin Asplund, Eva Melander, Maria Rossing, Ardalan Esmaili, Cecilia Nilsson
Broadcaster: SVT, DR
6 episodes of 58’
The disappearance of a five-week-old baby at Christmastime plunges the child’s mother Jenni into despair and brings police officer Alice onto the scene. The two are not the only ones whose lives are touched by the case.