European-Made Drama in Focus at NATPE Europe

HBO Europe
The big-budget European period mini-series "Burning Bush" was shot in Prague.

The US studios still rule at the annual television market but continental content is gaining ground.

PRAGUE - Television market NATPE Europe, which kicked off Monday in Prague, has traditionally been a studio showcase, where the majors screen their new shows for hungry buyers in Central and Eastern Europe.

But this year's market has a distinctive home-grown flare, with European-made series in focus. This is largely in response to the explosion of high-end drama made-in-Europe, which has been encroaching on the studio space across the continent.

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Prague, NATPE Europe's new home since moving from Budapest last year, has also played host to many of Europe's top series with shows such as the BBC's The Musketeers, crime drama Crossing Lines from StudioCanal's Tandem Communications and French-German-Czech co-production Borgia all choosing the city as a shooting location.

On Tuesday, Tandem will host a co-production summit at NATPE looking at the nuts and bolts of developing and financing U.S.-style series out of Europe. In addition to Crossing Lines, now in its second season, Tandem is in pre-production on London-set crime drama Spotless and the procedural Sex, Lies & Handwriting.

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On Wednesday, NATPE Europe will host a special celebration of Polish television, attended by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated director Agnieszka Holland. Holland, whose U.S. TV credits include episodes of Treme and The Wire, directed the critically-acclaimed Burning Bush, a 3-part period miniseries set in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia, which HBO co-financed and broadcast in several European territories.

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Despite the new European flavor, there is still a dominant US studio presence at NATPE Europe, with Warner Bros, Fox, NBC and CBS all screening their upcoming shows for local buyers.

NATPE Europe 2014 runs June 23-26 in Prague.