Netflix and Arte’s musical show “Le Monde de Demain” (“The World of Tomorrow”) took the top prize in the International Competition of television festival Series Mania at the event’s awards ceremony Friday.
The series, created by Katell Quillévéré, Hélier Cisterne – both also directing – Vincent Poymiro and David Elkaïm, takes a look at the birth of the French hip-hop movement in the 1980s. Made with the collaboration of Laurent Rigoulet and the participation of Kool Shen, JoeyStarr and DJ Détonateur S, it was described by the organizers as “a personal chronicle about a Parisian suburban youth reaching adulthood, claiming its own space in a new France, a country to reinvent.”
In the acting categories, Michelle De Swarte was noticed for her role in the U.K.’s “The Baby,” produced by Sky, HBO and OCS, while Israeli actor Yehuda Levi impressed the jurors with his performance in “Fire Dance,” a Yes TV, Firma Productions and Kuma Studios production about an 18-year-old girl falling for a much-older married son of their ultra-Orthodox community’s leader.
“He had to be charismatic in a manly way,” helmer Rama Burshtein-Shai told Variety ahead of the series’ premiere.
“Levi, a very big star here in Israel, is so talented. He is able to be many things, all at once. He is seductive, he wants power and he fights it, he loves women and stays away from them. That’s how I like my characters – I want them to have it all, because we also have it all,” she said.
Swedish thriller “The Dark Heart,” co-created by Gustav Möller and Oskar Söderlund, and featuring rising star Gustav Lindh, soon to be seen in “The Northman,” triumphed in the International Panorama. The Special Jury Prize went to “Sunshine Eyes.”
In the French competition, “Chair Tendre” (“About Sasha”) – listed among Variety’s Series Mania buzz titles and recounting the turmoil of an intersex high-schooler hoping for a fresh start – took the top prize.
While Axel Granberger took best actor for his turn in “Papillons Noirs” (“Black Butterflies”), best actress went to the dynamic lead trio from musical “Reusss” (“Sisters”): Inès Ouchaaou, Charlie Loiselier and Assa Sylla. Sylla debuted in Céline Sciamma’s “Girlhood” in 2014 and has since starred in the French version of “Skam,” also alongside Loiselier.
The jury also noticed the retro-infused soundtrack of a playful take on spy stories and workout “Toutouyoutou” (“The Aerobics Project”), courtesy of Clément Doumic, Antoine Wilson and Sébastien Wolf from the band “Feu! Chatterton.”
“Vikings” creator Michael Hirst, presenting his new show “Billy the Kid” in the International Competition, was celebrated as this year’s guest of honor alongside Nathalie Baye, “Game of Thrones” alumni Aidan Gillen and Mathieu Kassovitz and Isabelle Nanty, who acted alongside each other in 2001 smash “Amélie.”
This year’s event unspooled just six months after the last edition, which was postponed due to the pandemic.
“It was a nightmare, producing another event six months after the last edition, but we couldn’t have done otherwise. We had to go back to our regular March time slot,” founder and general director Laurence Herszberg told Variety, praising her “dedicated” team.
“Series Mania is successful because we have a broad overview of everything that has been produced, we know what’s interesting and what’s a new trend. We watched 330 series and we realized that this year’s edition was really taking a look at our reality and political subjects,” she added, mentioning the likes of the closing title “Oussekine,” Disney Plus’ offering based on a true story of an Algerian student, killed by a policeman, and Baltimore-set HBO’s “We Own the City” by “The Wire’s” David Simon and George Pelecanos.
Also praising lighter fare, from “Magpie Murders” to “Landscapers” with Olivia Colman, and Hirst’s fresh take on the legend of Billy the Kid. “The show is just amazing. I have never seen this story shown quite like that,” she said.
Herszberg also celebrated “special” French series. “We were always telling French producers and broadcasters: ‘Take risks. Take a look at our society, use more non-white characters.’ After so many years of repeating that, we finally got such interesting shows. We had a French show at the opening [‘Standing Up’] and a French show at the closing. It has never happened, because we are an international festival, but we just had to recognize that French offerings were especially good this year.”
Series Mania unspooled from March 18-25 in Lille, France.
The full list of awards were as follows:
Grand Prize: “The World of Tomorrow”
Best Actress: Michelle De Swarte in “The Baby”
Best Actor: Yehuda Levi in “Fire Dance”
Best Series Award: “The Dark Heart”
Special Jury Prize: “Sunshine Eyes”
Mention: “The Responder”
INTERNATIONAL PANORAMA STUDENT JURY
Best Series Award: “Funeral for a Dog”
FRENCH COMPETITION – INTERNATIONAL PRESS JURY
Best Series Award: “Chair Tendre”
Best Actress: Inès Ouchaaou, Charlie Loiselier and Assa Sylla in “Reusss”
Best Actor: Axel Granberger in “Papillons Noirs”
Best Music: Clément Doumic, Antoine Wilson, Sébastien Wolf from the group Feu! Chatterton for “Toutouyoutou”
Best Comedy Award: “Bloody Murray”
Special Mention: “Visitors”
SHORT FORMAT COMPETITION
Best Series Award: “Float”
Special Mention: “6.30 PM, New Season”
Audience Award: “The Birth of Daniel F. Harris”