Series Mania Confirms Titles, Launches Pioneering Virtual Digital Forum

Wild Bunch TV-sold “Albatros,” Turner Latin America’s banner title “Amarres” and REInvent Studios’ globe-trotting “Peacemaker” will feature at a 54 series-strong Buyers Showcase, which launches today March 25 as a backbone of Series Mania’s online Digital Forum, Europe’s first big festival experiment in a virtual marketplace.

Also featuring a powerful Co-Pro Pitching lineup, packed by pedigree producers and creatives, the Digital Forum’s industry audience, such as the number of accredited distributors, still has to be confirmed.

Some high-profile titles are missing: Opener “The Luminaries,” for example, from Fremantle and Working Title, and HBO closer “Run.” That said, the Buyer’s Showcase looks set to include five of Series Mania’s original 10 main competition entries and 13 of its 15 International Panorama titles, the festival’s two main sections.

Looking to the long-haul, as it also address urgent financial fall-out from COVID-19, the industry needs festival selection more than ever.

“Series can be sold the year-round these days,” said one top European broadcast TV executive. But, he added, “making a big festival or market showcase section still helps mark them apart in a hugely-competitive production landscape.”

It’s no coincidence that three of Series Mania’s most anticipated titles, which all make the Buyers Showcase – Lucy Kirkwood’s “Adult Material,” Lucía Puenzo’s “La Jauría” (“The Pack”) and Fernanda Eguiarte’s “Amarres” – are all showrun by women. They bring a sense of energy and urgency to their subjects – the red lines of sexual consent, the multiple manifestations of gender abuse, the complexities of romantic love – which only a few other titles can match.

New Titles

Set to air on Belgium channel VRT in 2021, set up at Belgium’s De Werelvrede, co-producer of Howard Overman’s Fox/Canal Plus-backed “War of the Worlds,” and co-written by that series’ director, Gilles Coulier, “Albatros,” is set in a weight-loss bootcamp whose inmates, says co-director Dominique van Malder, battle not only their bodies but inner demons.

Produced by Mexico’s BTF Media (“Selena’s Secret”) and early fruit of a production alliance between Mexico’s Dopamine and Turner Latin America, “Amarres” weighs in as a romantic comedy with a new realist edge – “not the typical telenovela,” says Turner Latin America’s Tomás Yankelevich – and the first Mexican series showrun and all written by a woman, Fernanda Eguiarte.

Underscoring Finnish broadcaster Yle’s notable international co-production ambitions, following on the Chile-set “Invisible Heroes” and Costa del Sol crime thriller “The Paradise,” thriller “Peacemaker” follows a veteran, outspoken Finnish negotiator from Turkey to Syria and Spain. A.J. Annila (“The Eternal Road”) directs, MRP Matila Röhr (“All the Sins”) produces.

Further as-yet-unseen series in what was called the Buyers Showcase, a title now applying to all of the screenings, include Serbian post-war drama “Bones,” created by actor-musician Nikola Pejaković for Serbian public broadcaster RTS; “Hope,” billed as an effective Russian-style “Hannah”; and “My Funeral,” a six-part dramedy said to be in the vein of Ricky Gervais’ s “Afterlife,” from fast-growing Icelandic production force Glassriver.

The Buyers Showcase will also highlight Canadian teen fantasy drama “422,” backed by Téle-Québec, two Australian series starring “Downton Abbey” actresses – the healing-themed “The Commons,” with Joanne Froggatt, sold by Sony Pictures Television; psychological thriller “The Secrets She Keeps,” with Laura Carmichael – and Viaplay family relationship dama “Love Me,” produced by Warner Bros. Intl.

Also newly announced is a strong Latin American presence from two of its biggest production players: Globo’s adult education-themed “Second Call,” in the social-realist line of “Jailers” and “Under Pressure,” and Viacom Intl. Studios maternity dreamed “Victoria Small” and Mexican teen fantasy drama-thriller “Dani Who?”

The Biggest Plays

As anticipated, the Buyers’ Showcase will feature a crop of strong Series Mania main competition titles: “Adult Material”; Eric Cantona social outcast revenge thriller “Inhuman Resources,” an Arte-Mandarin Pictures production and Netflix pickup; HBO Europe’s Basque reconciliation drama “Patria,” its biggest title to date; and Denmark’s domestic violence tale “Cry Wolf,” from “Borgen” and “The Killing” producer, public broadcaster DR.

The titles look set to be joined by “Valley of Tears,” described as Israel’s biggest-budget TV drama series and a take on the 1973 Yom Kippur War seen through the eyes of young combatants which is written by Ron Leshem (“Euphoria”) and Amit Cohen (“False Flag”), who also penned another original Series Mania 2020 main competition title, “No Man’s Land,” not in the Buyers’ Showcase cut.

The Showcase also features, among five International Panorama world premieres had they screened in a theater at Series Mania: the Lionsgate-sold “Cold Courage,” in which activists try to take down a ghastly populist politician played by John Simm; “Operation Buffalo,” a crafted Australian period spy thriller distributed by About Premium Content; and unusual Dutch action-thriller “Commandos,” a mainstream title represented by Lagardère Studios Distribution, in which an upstanding former Dutch Special Forces commander is targeted for reprisal by an African war crime perpetrator.

Other Potential Standouts

As the pieces of the Digital Forum finally fall into place, so do more buzzy titles: “Derby Girl,” a roller derby comedy playing Comedies and Coming Next From France; France Televisions’ artistic 1960-set fantasy thriller “Wonderland, the Girl from the Shore,” a reported standout in French Competition; and psychological thriller “Karma Cases,” a project in the Digital Forum’s French-Israeli Co-Writing Residency penned by Nathanaël Guedj, “The Bureau” writer Alexandre Smia and “Fauda” scribe Maayan Oz.

Coming Next from Germany has just added the Fremantle-sold “Deutschland89,” from Anna and Jörg Winger, and features “Wild Republic,” which has young offenders creating a new republic in the high Alps. It is produced by Munich’s Lailaps and “Babylon Berlin’s” X Filme for Telekom.

SERIES MANIA’S 2020 BUYERS SHOWCASE & DIGITAL FORUM

Title, creator, sales agent/broadcaster; WP: World premiere; EP: European Premiere; IP: International Premiere)

International Competition

“Adult Material” (Lucy Kirkwood, U.K., Channel 4, WP).

“Cry Wolf” (Maja Jul Larsen, Denmark, DR Sales, WP)

“Dérapages (Inhuman Resources)” (Pierre Lemaitre, France, Arte France, Mandarin WP)

“Patria” (Aitor Gabilondo, Spain, HBO Europe, WP)

“Valley of Tears” (Amit Cohen, Ron Leshem, Daniel Amsel, Yaron Zilberman, Gal Zaid, Izhar Har-Lev, Israel, EndemolShine Israel, WestEnd Films, WP)

International Panorama:

“22 July” (Sara Johnsen, Pål Sletaune, Norway, DRG)

“Behind the Door” (Eriko Shinozaki, Japan, Wow)

“Commandos” (Oscar Van Woensel, Boudewijn Rosenmuller, The Netherlands, Lagardère Studios Distribution, WP)

“Cold Courage” (David Joss Buckley, Brendan Foley, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, UK, Lionsgate, WP)

“The Cursed” (Yeon Sang-ho, South Korea, CJ. Entertainment, Korea)

“La Jauría (The Pack)” (Sergio Castro, Enrique Videla, Lucía Puenzo, Chile, Fremantle, Fabula)

“Lucky Day” (Daniel Vega, Diego Vega, Peru, Onza Distribution, EP)

“Normal” (Lior Dayan, Asaf Korman, Israel, HOT, WP)

“Operation Buffalo” (Peter Duncan, Tanya Phegan, Australia, About Premium Content, WP)

“Thin Ice” (Lena Endre, Søren Stærmose, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland, Banijay Rights)

“Unchained” (Joseph Madmony, Tamar Kay, Davd Ofek, Israel, ADD Content Agency, EP)

“Wara” (Charli Boleti, Niger, Senegal, France, Film & Picture, WP)

“World on Fire” (Peter Bowker, U.K. ITV Studios (Sept. 2019)

French Competition:

“Ils Etaient Dix (They Were Ten)” (Bruno Dega, Jeanne Le Gouillou, France, Federation Entertainment, WP)

“Parlement” (Noé Debré, France, France TV Distribution, WP)

“Romance (Wonderland, the Girl from the Shore)” (Hervé Hadmar, Mediawan Rights, WP)

Made in the USA:

“Briarpatch” (Andy Greenwald, NBC Universal International Distribution)

Special Screening:

“Total Control,” (Darren Dale, Rachel Griffiths, Miranda Dear, Australia, Keshet International)

Midnight Comedies:

“Defending the Guilty,” (Kieron Quirke, U.K., BBC Studios)

“Derby Girl,” (Nikola Lange, Charlotte Vecchiet, France TV Distribution)

“Drama,” (Dani Amor, Spain, RTVE)

“Intelligence,” (Nick Mohammed, U.K., NBCUniversal & Sky Studios)

“Tu Preferes,” (France, Lise Akoka, Romane Guéret, France, Arte TV)

“Upright,” (Chris Taylor, Australia, Foxtel, Sky Atlantic)

“Everything’s Gonna Be Okay,” (Josh Thomas, U.S.A., Avalon Distribution)

Further Featured Series

“Albatros,” (Wannes Destoop, Dominique van Malder, Belgium, Wild Bunch TV, WP)

“Amarres,” (Fernanda Eguiarte, Mexico, Turner Latin America, WP)

“Blackout,” (Bas Adriaensen, Geert Verbanck, Philippe de Schepper, Belgium, Lagardere Studios Distribution)

“Bones,” (Nikola Pejakovic, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, RTS, WP)

“Dani Who?” (Rodrigo Ordoñez, Mexico, Viacom International Studios, ViacomCBS)

“Hope,” (Aleksey Trotsuk, Eldar Velikoretsky, Russia, Yellow, Black & White WP)

“Love Me,” (Josephine Bornebusch, Sweden, Warner Bros. International)

“My Funeral,” (Jón Gunnar Geirdal, Ragnar Eypórsson, Iceland, Siminn Premium S-VOD, WP)

“Peacemaker,” (Eriikka Etholén-Paju, Johanna Enasuo, Finland, Spain, Germany, ReInvent Studios, WP)

“Second Call,” (Carla Faour, Julia Spadaccini, Brazil, Globo)

“The Bank Hacker,” (Kristof Hoefkens, Maarten Goffin, Belgium, Belgium, Red Arrow Studios International)

“The Commons,” (Shelley Birse, Australia, Sony Pictures Television)

“The Secret She Keeps,” (Helen Bowden, Jason Stephens, Australia, DCD Rights)

“Victoria Small,” (Erika Halvorsen, Mara Pescio, Anita Accorsi, Martin Vatenberg, Argentina, Viacom International Studios, ViacomCBS)

Co-Pro Pitching Sessions

“The Abduction of Yossele Shuchmacher” (Moshe Zonder, Eran Riklis, Israel, Germany, U,K., Belgium, U.S,; Topia Communications, United King Film)

“The Black Lady” (Hélène Duchateau, Belgium, France, Germany, AT-Prod, Zeitsprung Pictures)

“Casa Girls” (Laïla Marrakchi, France, The Film TV, Federation Entertainment)

“Döppelganger” (Jesica Arán, Spain-Argentina, AVI Films)

“My First Family” (Maya Zaydman, Ori Sivan, France, Israel; Haut et Court, Quiddity)

“Frozen Land” (Russia, Sergey Kaluzhanov, Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov, Non-Stop Productions )

“Good People” (Stéphane Bergmans, Benjamin d’Aoust, Matthieu Donck Belgium, France, Hélicotronc, La Unité de Production)

“The Island,” (Anders August, Alexander Rumelin, Germany-U.K., Producers at Work, All3Media)

“Life and Fate” (Adapting the novel of Vasily Grossman; U.K., Poland, Cosmopolitan Pictures, Clerkenwell Films, Apple Film)

“A Marriage” (Giacomo Bendotti, Italy, Indigo Film)

“Play of Mirrors (Velazquez in Rome)” (Pedro Barbero, Spain, Vertice 360)

“Submarine” (Ran Tellem, Mariano Baselga, Marcos Bernstein, Brazil-Spain, Globo, The Mediapro Studio)

“Tahrir,” (Ariel Benbaji, Anat Gafni, Sahar Shavit, Israel, Artza Productions, Yes Studios)

“Transitniki,” (Rohfilm Factory, Germany)

“Turbo” (Milica Zivanovic, Matthias Nerlich, Milan Stojanovic, Milan Strojanovic, Matthias Nerlich, Serbia, Sense Production)

“Underground” (JP Sili, Norway, Anagram Norway)

Carte Blanche: Quebec:

“My Son,” (Anne Boyer, Michel d’Astous, Canada, TVA Films, Quebecor Content)

“422,” (Benoit Lach, Vincent Lafortune, Canada, HG Distribution)

“Cerebrum,” (Richard Blaimert, Canada, CBC, Radio-Canada)

“Outbreak,” (Annie Piérard, Bernard Dansereau, Étienne Piérard Dansereau, Canada, Sphere Media International, Quebecor Content)

“Fragile,” (Serge Boucher, Canada, CBC, Radio-Canada Distribution)

Coming Next From France:

“Algiers Confidential,” (Abdel Raouf Dafri, About Premium Content (APC)

“Voltaire in Love,” (Alain Tasma, Georges-Marc Benamou, Henri Helman, France Télévisions)

“Derby Girl,” (Nikola Lange, Charlotte Vecchiet, France TV Distribution)

“Stalk,” (Simon Bouisson, Jean-Charles Paugam, Victor Rodenbach, France TV Distribution)

Coming Next From Germany:

“Deutschland89,” (Anna Winger, Jörg Winger, Fremantle International)

“Wild Republic,” (Jan Martin Scharf, Arne Nolting, Klaus Wolfertstetter, Beta Film)

“Algiers Confidential,” (Abdel Raouf Dafri, Oliver Bottini, About Premium Content)

“MaPa,” (Alexander Lindh, Beta Film)

Pictured: “Amarres”

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