Cannes Says "Non" to TV Series Craze

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"We take care of cinema, which needs us!” says festival director Thierry Fremaux.

Big international film festivals have been adding programs this year that put the spotlight on increasingly cinematic TV dramas.

But with its 68th annual edition kicking off on May 13, Cannes plans to continue to focus on movies.

Has Cannes ever considered adding a section or program on TV series? “No, never,” Cannes festival director Thierry Fremaux tells THR. “Cannes shows only 60 movies and among them only 20 in competition. We can't and we don't want to add any TV series, which are great, but it's another subject matter.”

Of course, he says, the festival has had a couple of exceptions over the years by screening films made for TV, such as Carlos by Olivier Assayas, which had an out-of-competition spot in Cannes in 2010 and aired as a three-part miniseries on Canal Plus. It focused on the life of 1970s Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal.

And famously, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, about school violence in the U.S., was made for HBO and got a limited theatrical release, but in 2003 won two Cannes awards, the Palme d'Or and the best director honor.

But Fremaux says he has no plans for a dedicated TV offering as part of the Cannes festival. “It's the task of television,” he says. “We take care of cinema, which needs us!”

The Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market this February launched a new focus on high-end TV drama, screening Better Call Saul, Bloodline, German period series Deutschland '83, Italian political thriller 1992 and other shows. “We want to expand the EFM into new business fields, develop the synergies between the festival and the EFM and sustain the EFM's position as one of the most important film markets worldwide," said EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol.

And with indie filmmakers increasingly making edgy TV dramas, the Toronto Film Festival will this fall launch the so-called Primetime sidebar with six international shows. Said festival director and CEO Piers Handling: “What better way to celebrate our 40th anniversary than with a program that focuses on the new golden era of television that’s currently producing high-quality global programming, terrific writing, and direction that rivals the best feature filmmaking.”

Twitter: @georgszalai