‘Halo,’ Gillian Anderson, Sydney Sweeney Among Canneseries Highlights

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Courtesy of Paramount+

Paramount Plus’ “Halo,” a makeover of the massive video game hit by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV and 343 Industries, will open this year’s Canneseries.

In other potential highlights, Gillian Anderson will be on hand to receive the Variety Icon Award. Canneseries Artistic Director Albin Lewi praised Anderson for delivering 10 “edgy” and iconic roles that have helped to redefine the drama landscape, and for being a symbol of “this golden age of series.”

“Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney will pick up the Madame Figaro Rising Star Award, the French TV festival announced Tuesday March 8 in Paris, unveiling its 2022 lineup. “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-huyk producer Yeon Kim-ji will be in Cannes for a South Korea Focus. 

Main growth at 2022’s Cannesseries will be in industry terms, said Canneseries Managing Director Benoit Louvet. The festival will stage its 4th Vivendi-backed Talent Unlimited writers residencies and 3rd Canneseries Writers Club, with 40 writers attending Canneseries for two days of masterclasses and round tables. 

In a major industry innovation this year, Canneseries and MipTV, which runs April 4-6, will launch Mip X Canneseries Connection, a boutique, closed-doors discussion forum at which high-level producers and executives will debate international production. 

Executives from Studiocanal, Fremantle, BBC, ITV and Movistar Plus have already signed up, Louvet said. “These are ‘frenemies.’ We think it’s highly important for them to meet, because they haven’t been able to do so over the last two years, and also new ways of co-producing are emerging,” he added. 

The South Korea Focus will take in the first episode of “Monstrous,” written by Yeon Sang-ho and Ryu Yong-jae, “Damn Good Company,” by Kim Yunui and Park Jaehan, and “Work Later, Drink Now,” from We So-young.

Running April 1-6, the 5th Canneseries program will feature the world premiere of some of the most hotly-anticipated of international series, such as “Bang Bang Baby,” from Amazon Studios and Fremantle’s Wildside and The Apartment, producers of “The New Pope” and “We Are Who We Are”; Constantin Film’s “The Punishment,” adapting Ferdinand von Schirach whose “The Allegation” was a major prize-winner at October’s 4th Canneseries; and “Afterglow,” from Norway’s NRK and Fremantle-owned Monster Scripted (“Pørni”).

“The level of competition is the best overall that we’ve ever had,” said Lewi. There are classic series which are told differently and some series are incredibly free in their form of storytelling,” he added, hitting back at charges of a creeping conservatism afflicting high-end international drama series production. Lewi also pointed out to the success of shows which were previously launched at Canneseries, for instance the Finnish show “Mister 8” which Federation Entertainment sold around the world following its world premiere at the festival in October, including to Canal Plus in France.

In spite of the fact that this 2022 edition will be hosted only six months after the latest one, Lewi said the festival received a record number of 200 series for consideration, including 150 long-form drama formats, from 35 nationalities. A breakdown of main competition titles: 

Canneseries Lineup, 2022

Out of Competition 

Opening Series

“Halo,” (U.S, Hungary, Canada)

A big screen outing for one of Paramount Plus’ biggest swings, due to bow on the platform on March 24, a highly anticipated science fiction epic adapting Microsoft’s video game, developed by Kyle Killen and Steven Kane  and starring Pablo Schreiber (“The Wire”) and Natascha McElhone (“The First”). 

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The Dreamer Courtesy of Canneseries

Closing Series:

“Le Flambeau: Les Aventuriers de Chupacabra” (France)

A Canal Plus Création Originale sold by Studiocanal, the second season of an adaptation of U.S. reality show parody “Burning Love,” this time round spoofing “Koh-Lanta,” the French version of “Survivor.”

“Infiniti,” (France, Belgium)

Produced by Federation Entertainment Belgique and Empreinte Digitale, a byword in France for ambitious lo-fi sci-f, a singular procedural ranging from an International Space Station and Kazakh criminal underworld. One more a Canal Plus Création Originale with Studiocanal handling international distribution.

“Beyond Signs,” (“Visions,” France)

A mystery thriller, turning on an eight-year-old who has strange visions, created and written by Bruno Dega and Jeanne Le Guillou, behind TF1 2015 hit “Le Mystère du lac.”

Main Competition

“1985,” (Belgium)

Created by Willem Wallyn (“Albatros”), produced by Eyeworks Film en TV Drama and helmed by the on-the-rise Wouter Bouvijn, who already teamed on Canneseries standouts “Red Light” and “The Twelve.” A historical loss of innocence tale set in a tumultuous 1985 Belgium as two police recruits and a student lawyer are caught up in the rise of the brutal Nijvel gang and Belgium’s loss of confidence in its police force and politics. Studiocanal handles international distribution. 

“Afterglow,” (Norway)

A buzzed-up competition title created by “Bloodride’s” Atle Knudsen and Kjetil Indregard, “‘This is Us’ meets ‘The Big C’ and a potential critical darling,” said Lewi, noting that Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has always had a series at Canneseries. “Norway is making artistically ambitious, high-end original series,” he added. REinvent sells.

“Audrey’s Back,” (“Audrey est revenue,” Canada)

Created by actor-scribe Guillaume Lambert (“Adulthood”) and Florence Longpré, co-writer of Berlinale Series and Series Mania-selected “Last Summers of the Raspberries.” A “highly tender” 25-minute format, said Lewi, about a dysfunctional family confronting the death its young daughter, who suddenly comes back to life.  From Québecor Media’s SVOD service Club Illico, and sold by Beta Film.

“Bang Bang Baby,” (Italy)

Amazon Studios’ first Italian fiction original, created by Andrea Di Stefano (“The Informer”), a reportedly explosive ‘80s Milan crime drama come teen family drama from Fremantle’s Wildside and The Apartment. A potential competition standout.

“The Dreamer – Becoming Karen Blixen,” (Denmark, Belgium, South Africa)

“Gladiator’s” Connie Nielsen plays “Out of Africa” author Karen Blixen back from Africa in 1930s Denmark, penniless, divorced, ill and trying to establish herself as a writer. From NENT’s Viaplay and Zentropa Episode, sold by TrustNordisk.   

“El Inmortal,” (Spain)

A second series from Spain’s DLO after “Tell Me Who I Am,” slotting into Movistar Plus’ multi-title co-production deal with Telemundo. One of Movistar Plus’ broadest 2022 audience plays, the intense tale of the true-life rise and fall of the head of Los Miami, a criminal gang dominating Madrid’s 1990s drug trade. “A classic tale told with intensity and energy, like ‘Pusher,’” said Lewi.

“The Inside Game, Seeds of Wrath,” (“Jeux d’Influence, les combattantes,” France)

The latest from social issue French auteur Jean-Xavier De Lestrade, a documentary feature Oscar winner for 2001’s “Murder on a Sunday Morning” and creator of HBO Max’s “Latetitia.” A thriller lifting the lid on the workings of 

multinational agrochemical lobbies. Arte will broadcast, Newen Connect handles sales. 

“The Lesson,” (Israel)

Starring Maya Landsman (“Sad City Girls”), arguably Israel’s hottest young actress, and Doron Ben-David (“Fauda”), a teacher’s rant against a right-wing student is blown out of all proportion by social media, becoming a source of national debate. Sold by Federation Entertainment and a huge hit on state-owned Kan 11 TV. 

“The Punishment,” (“Strafe,” Germany)

Canneseries’ first anthology series, “Ferdinand Von Schirach’s ‘Black Mirror,’” said Lewi. Six distinguished German directors take on short stories from the celebrated writer, a criminal law attorney turned best-selling writer. The two episodes to screen at Canneseries are helmed by “Downfall’s” Oliver Hirschbiegel and Hüseyin Tabak (“The Thorn”). Constantly  challenging viewers to believe unequivocally that something is true, only to pull the carpet from beneath their feet, “The Allegation,” written by Von Schirach, triumphed at Canneseries last October. Once more produced by Constantin Film’s Moovie, “The Punishment” looks highly promising indeed.

“Souls,” (Germany)

A Sky German series, the story of Allie, Hanna, and Linn, three women whose lives are turned upside down when Hanna’s son, Jacob, is involved in a serious car accident and claims he remembers his earlier life as a pilot of a lost passenger plane. A compelling premise for a “very dark” mystery thriller with a sci-fi edge, said Lewi. Created, co-written and co-directed by Alex Eslam (“Vicious Dogs”).  

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The Lesson Moshe Nachumovich