CanneSeries: Sandra Oh, Gael Garcia Bernal Dramas Highlight TV Fest Competition Lineup

Courtesy of BBC America
'Killing Eve'

Netflix's 'Undercover' is also among the titles in competition at the new event.

Cannes will roll out the pink carpet in South of France rosé style for the inaugural edition of its new TV festival in April. And while the long-running film festival in May has the Palme d'Or, CanneSeries will have its own award, a glowing neon tree atop a marble base that could be called a palm of light.

The prize was designed by Los Angeles-based pop artist Steven Harrington and will be handed out April 11, organizers unveiled Tuesday morning in Paris. 

The 10 titles competing for the honor include Sandra Oh’s new MI5 spy drama Killing Eve. The thriller from Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which also stars Doctor Foster’s Jodie Comer as an assassin, was produced for BBC America.

Killing Eve will compete with productions from around the world at the new TV festival for such prizes as best series, screenplay, performance, special performance and music. The best performance award will be for individual acting of either gender, and the special performance honor will given to a group.

Gael Garcia Bernal’s Aqui en la Tierra will also compete. The Mozart in the Jungle star created, directed and also toplines the Mexican political family thriller, which is one of the first major originals from Fox Networks Latin America.

Netflix’s Belgium/Netherlands co-production series Undercover, which focuses on the ecstasy drug trade in Europe, is also a contender.

Miguel, a culture clash about a gay man trying to adopt a child from In Treatment writer Daphna Levin and Tom Salama and starring Raul Mendez (Narcos), is one of two Israeli dramas featured in the competition. The second is Keshet’s When Heroes Fly from Hostages creator Omri Givon.

Norway’s 1960s-set State of Happiness (Lykkeland) is also in the running. It screened at the Gothenberg Film Festival earlier this year and tells the story of a small town when an oil company strikes black gold in the North Sea.

Also among the titles are Germany’s The Typist (Die Protokollantin), penned by The Weekend director Nina Grosse, and Cross Productions and Beta Film’s Italian drama The Hunter (Il Cacciatore), which centers on an anti-mafia prosecutor.

From South Korea, the drama Mother, starring Bo-Young Lee as a substitute teacher who takes in a young student after she has been abused, is also in the running.

Lastly, Gaudi-winner Cesc Gay’s Felix will compete from Spain. The series, produced by Movistar+, is being sold internationally by ITV. The eight-part thriller follows the title character as he searches for a lost love but encounters a criminal network.

Guests at the press conference were quick to note that no French series is among the competition titles for the first edition of the event. Festival artistic director addressed the issue by pointing out that several French series are among the fest's programming, particularly as part of the public program which will have nights dedicated to Un Village Francais and Cherif.

The controversy surrounding Netflix's inclusion in the film festival also plays no part here, organizers noted, as TV shows are very different than films and Netflix and Amazon have played a part in developing series and will be included in the festival. 

As previously announced, The Five creator Harlan Coben will head up the jury, with The Night Of actor Michael Kenneth Williams, German actress Paula Beer, French director Audrey Fouceh, Turkish actress Melisa Sozen and Chilean-Canadian composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer rounding out the jury.

CanneSeries will host the third-season world premiere of CanalPlus’ Versailles as the opening-night screening and will close with Coben’s new Netflix drama Safe, starring Michael C. Hall (Dexter).

Patrick Dempsey-starrer The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair from director Jean-Jacques Annaud (Wolf Totem) will also world premiere out of competition.

Coben, Hall and Annaud will all give master classes during the fest.

A total of 10 series will also compete for the best digital series prize, including Eli Sasich’s Atropa, starring Michael Ironside, and Rightor Doyle’s Bonding, starring Zoe Levin. Bite Size Horror, a series of two-minute shorts from Mars candies that aired on Fox TV around Halloween, will also compete from the U.S.

Cuba’s Cabeza Madre, from creator Edouard Salier; Colombia’s Camionero, from creator Jacques Toulemonde; Canada’s Dominos, from creator Zoe Pelchat; Spain’s If I Were You (Si Fueras Tu), from creators Annais Schaaf, Javier Olivares and Javier Pascual; India’s Immature, from creator Sameer Saxena; Canada’s The Arena, from creator Marjorie Armstrong; and South Korea’s Memento Mori, from creator Lee Young-Sook, will round out the competition.

CanneSeries is set to run April 4-11 in Cannes.