Upstart Television Festival CanneSeries Launches With 'Versailles'


The new fest, which bookends the MIPTV market, comes ahead of France's more established Series Mania festival later this month.

A month before the launch of its legendary film festival, the French seaside town of Cannes rolls out the red carpet for small screen talent with CannesSeries, a brand-new event highlighting the best in international television.

The inaugural CannesSeries launches Wednesday with the world premiere of the third season of Versailles, the CanalPlus period drama set during the rule of King Louis XIV. The show, produced by Capa Drama, Banijay Studios France and Entre Chien et Loup, is sold globally by Banijay. It airs on Ovation in the U.S. and in the U.K. on the BBC.

The Michael C. Hall drama Safe, from StudioCanal’s Red Production company, which Netflix will bow worldwide, will close the festival on April 11. Both Safe and Versailles will run out of competition.

The CannesSeries competition lineup includes the world premiere of Killing Eve, created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer; Here on Earth, co-created, directed by and starring Gael Garcia Bernal; and Rai 2’s Italian mafia series The Hunter.

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, a miniseries produced by MGM Television which will air on France's TF1 and Epix in the U.S., and featuring Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, will also present a special sneak peek of select scenes from the series, in the out-of-competition portion of the festival.

An international jury, headed by Safe writer and showrunner Harlan Coben and including German actress Paula Beer, The Wire star Michael Kenneth Williams, television composer Cristobal Tapia De Veer (Black Mirror), French screenwriter Audrey Fouche (The Returned) and Turkish actress Melisa Sozen (Winter Sleep), will judge the competition titles and announce this year's winners, in the categories for best music, best screenplay, special performance prize, best performance and best series, at a ceremony on April 11.

CannesSeries will run parallel to the international television market MIPTV, which runs April 9-12 in Cannes. One of the keys to judging the new festival's success will be to what extent the global television industry embraces the event.

Of particular interest for the industry will be a side event, In Development, run jointly by CannesSeries and MIPTV, which will present 12 in-development projects from 10 different countries that are searching for production and financing partners. Among the selected projects are the U.S. series Angelica, written and produced by Jen McGowan and Eliza Lee; the New Zealand series Dead Head from Screentime NZ, and The Sources of Evil, a project from Germany's Wuste Film. International buyers are increasingly looking to board series at the development stage and with its curated lineup, CannesSeries hopes to offer a best-of new projects for networks and international production companies.

But the real measuring stick for the upstart CannesSeries will be how it compares to Series Mania, the established, and well-respected, TV festival, which runs from April 27-May 5.

For its ninth edition, Series Mania is moving from Paris to the small city of Lille. This year's Series Mania kicks off with the world premiere of the pilot episode of HBO's Succession, starring Brian Cox, Hiam Abbass and Matthew Macfadyen. Festival highlights include the world premieres of BBC/Sundance TV series The Split from The Hour writer Abi Morgan; Warner Bros. and Paramount Network’s American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari and the French premiere of the first two episodes of the first season of Tom Tykwer's period epic Babylon Berlin, which will will close Series Mania. The festival will also feature the screening of the first two episodes of the second season Hulu's Emmy-winning The Handmaid's Tale and the fourth and final season of Nimbus Film's Scandinavian noir The Bridge.

Series Mania's competition jury is headed by U.S. writer and producer Chris Brancato, co-creator of Netflix's Narcos.

Series Mania has the backing of the French government, while CannesSeries is supported by the city of Cannes —particularly its ambitious mayor David Lisnard — and has secured industry support, from French pay TV giant CanalPlus, which dropped Series Mania for an exclusive partnership with CannesSeries.