'Your Honor,' 'I Love Dick' Take Top Prizes at Series Mania
Founder Laurence Herzberg vows to return next year as competing TV festivals prepare to launch in France.
Paris' TV festival Series Mania wrapped its eighth edition Saturday night with Damon Lindelof’s jury selecting Israel’s Your Honor for the grand prize.
Amazon’s I Love Dick, starring Kevin Bacon and Kathryn Hahn, won the jury prize.
Oscar-nominated Europa, Europa director Agnieszka Holland, Cesar-nominated Israeli helmer Eytan Fox, French actor Clement Manuel and Cesar-winning actress Aure Atika rounded out the jury.
Brit Anna Friel was honored as best actress for her role on the BBC’s Catholic parish drama Broken, while the best actor prize went to Germany’s Kida Khodr Ramadan for his role on Berlin gang drama 4 Blocks.
“Not only was the scope of the shows diverse internationally, but diverse ideologically,” said Lindelof. “From comedies to drama, it was simply astonishing how unique each series was.”
The festival started with a splashy premiere of the final season of Lindelof’s The Leftovers, with Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston attending Paris’ 3,000-seat Grand Rex theater, and also hosted the world premiere of Jim Carrey’s stand-up comedy drama I’m Dying Up Here.
Israeli-French drama Fertile Crescent took the co-production forum’s project prize, along with its €50,000 prize from a separate jury that judged from 16 pitches. The timely project follows a man searching for his sister amongst female Kurdish freedom fighters in the chaos surrounding the Syrian civil war.
That jury was headed by HBO’s co-head of drama Francesca Orsi and included Red Arrow managing director Henrik Pabst, Kim Kong producer Thomas Bourguignon, Denmark's DR head of drama Piv Bernth and the U.K.'s DCD Rights head of acquisitions Pilar Perez Roel.
It’s the first time the co-production forum awarded a cash prize, perhaps the reason the festival received over 300 entries, up from 200 last year. The forum also nearly doubled its attendance from 450 people to over 900.
The eighth installment of Series Mania came to a close as France prepares to launch two additional TV festivals next year, one in Lille and one in Cannes that is slated to run alongside MIPTV.
Festival founder Laurence Herzberg highlighted that while the event has drawn star power, its focus on professional development has become its biggest strength.
“It’s not a market, it’s really a content-oriented event," she said. "Everything here is about content, and this industry is content-driven, really. It’s not like movies where you have blockbusters coming from other sources or media; here the dramas start with content and developing an idea into 10 or 12 episodes.”
With the glut of global dramas on the air, Herzberg emphasized how important it is to drive buzz on the newly emerging international series circuit.
“You have to launch a drama the way you launch a movie. You have to start with festivals because that’s where the buzz starts,” she said. “Like taking a film to Cannes or Venice, it’s the same now with TV. You need for your dramas to reach out before broadcasting.”
Herzberg, however, is skeptical that France can support three competing drama festivals.
As for Series Mania, which is set to lose National Cinema Center funding to Lille and media partner CanalPlus to Cannes, Herzberg is determined that it will continue with a ninth edition next year. She’s also waiting on the results of France’s heated presidential election, which will result in a new culture minister that could reverse the decision to launch a new festival in Lille.
“We’re a very steady festival, and we’re the only one that currently exists,” said Herzberg, noting that neither Cannes nor Lille have launched yet so their success remains untested. “Series Mania is as strong as ever, so we will definitely have a Series Mania nine — I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but we will have it.”