Since its launch in 2015, the Berlinale Series section has emerged as a kind of a boutique scripted TV fest set within a major film festival.

The Berlinale was famously the first A-list festival to embrace changing viewer habits and to officially incorporate television drama into its lineup — and this head-start is reflected in the growing stature of Berlinale Series.

Taking place over a concentrated three-day period (Feb. 14-16), Berlinale Series offers up seven world and international premieres from around 200 entries, giving each of them the red-carpet treatment at the Zoo Palast cinema.

Running parallel, the Berlinale Series Market — part of the European Film Market — offers up an online conference program, showcases and screenings. Its Berlinale Series Market Selects curates a selection of 14 series being traded on the market. Meanwhile, Co-Pro Series looks to pair 10 early-stage international series projects with co-producers and financiers (see story, p.13) through a series of pitches and meetings.

Head of Berlinale Series Julia Fidel says the breaking down of barriers between film and TV made it a natural decision for the Berlinale to step up its focus on scripted series. “The big production companies, distributors and world sales companies have all split their portfolio between film and TV,” she notes.

The free flowing of talent between film and TV is neatly reflected in the Series lineup where, in Fidel’s words, there are “many happy returns” for Berlinale regulars.

Two directors who have previously opened the Berlinale with their feature films — Lone Scherfig with “The Kindness of Strangers” in 2019 and Philippe Falardeau with “My Salinger Year” in 2021 — return this year with their first-ever drama series.

Scherfig’s “The Shift,” set on a maternity ward in Denmark and backed by TV2, has its world premiere at the Berlinale. So too does Falardeau’s “Le Temps des Framboises” (“Last Summers of the Raspberries”), about a newly widowed woman who must take sole care of her teenage sons and a farm. It is backed by Quebecois streamer Club illico.

Meanwhile, Argentinian director Daniel Burman — a Berlin regular who won the Silver Bear in 2004 for “Lost Embrace” — opens the Series program with the world premiere of Amazon Prime Video’s “Yosi, the Regretful Spy,” about a young secret agent who goes undercover in the Jewish community of Buenos Aires.

Director Ella Lemhagen, who won the Crystal Bear in 2000, also returns with HBO Max Swedish original comedy “Lust,” about the sex lives of a group of friends in their mid-40s.

Casting her eye across the Series program, Fidel picks out several themes. She says there is “less crazy experimentation” compared with a few years ago, and wonders if this might be due to the “seriousness’’ of the pandemic in our lives.

Instead, she says, there’s a trend toward program-makers playing with audience expectations by setting up classical narratives and settings — crime scenes, courtrooms and hospitals — and then taking viewers to unfamiliar, emotional places that are challenging and affecting.

Fidel cites Scherfig’s “The Shift,” noting that the Danish director is not so much interested in the procedural nature of a hospital show but engaging the viewer on an emotional level. Similarly, “Le Temps des Framboises” uses humor “as a gateway to make us feel a bit more open, leaving us a bit more vulnerable for grief of this show to have a really strong effect.”

Fidel also says the Berlinale Series program highlights how “a really good show can come from anywhere these days. It’s not necessarily the big streamer shows that are going to be the ones that end up with us — you can tell the other players have really caught up.”

The best dramas also now from a wide variety of countries, not just traditional sources such as the U.K. and the U.S. “Also, the really big, highly anticipated shows with really big stars aren’t necessarily the best shows,” says Fidel.

“Suspicion,” for example, is the first Czech drama to be selected for Drama Series, while Icelandic thriller “Black Sands” and supernatural crime thriller “The Rising,” the first drama to be produced entirely inhouse by the U.K.’s Sky Studios, round out the program.

Fidel says Scandinavia has had a good year. Three out of seven of the Drama Series titles hail from Scandinavia, while the Berlinale Series Market Selects showcases hot Scandi titles including “Harmonica,” produced by Warner Bros. Intl. Television Production Sweden for streaming platform Viaplay, and “Outlaw” from Danish broadcaster DR.

Fidel also cites “strong” dramas from territories such as Portugal and Croatia. Portugal is represented in the Market Selects program with Patricia Müller’s buzzy female empowerment story “Vanda,” which is being sold by Legendary Television, while Croatia has corruption and human trafficking tale “Šutnja” (“The Silence”), sold by Beta Film.

Latin America also makes its presence felt, not just with Burman’s latest in Drama Series but also with titles such as Brazil’s “A Woman’s Fate” in Market Selects. “You didn’t necessarily have arthouse shows from Latin America for a long while because of their different TV tradition there, but it is definitely happening now,” says Fidel.

This all underlines her point that the next big hit drama could come from anywhere in the world. “Look at what happened last year with ‘Squid Game’ stealing the show. That’s just what you see happening a lot now,” says Fidel.