Event Preview: Series Mania

The next installment of the Series Mania Festival is set for March 18 to 25 in Lille, France, while the Series Mania Forum, the industry arm of Series Mania, will run from March 22 to 24. There is a slew of events taking place in person in Lille, with a robust online offering as a complement. This hybrid style has worked well for Series Mania, according to Francesco Capurro, head of Series Mania Forum.

“In-person events cannot be entirely replaced by digital events,” Capurro says. “However, they can serve as complementary tools to prepare the market, book meetings with professionals and keep the market going after the actual event. We developed a platform called Series Mania Digital so that everyone can catch up on the sessions they missed, watch world-premiere series and stay in touch with other professionals, no matter where they are. It is nonetheless essential to meet in person if you want to establish long-term relationships, co-develop and finance projects, as well as get to know writers.”

With more than 55 series, 30 world premieres, 330 series screened from more than 46 territories on six continents, guest stars and a bevy of events, Series Mania Festival has lined up eight days of culture and celebration. This year’s program, curated by artistic director Frédéric Lavigne, spotlights the dynamism of French productions worldwide, with the festival’s opening series, Standing Up, a new Netflix comedy series from Call My Agent creator and showrunner Fanny Herrero, and two French originals on Disney+: Oussekine and Parallels. The program is marked by the large presence of streamers, with the second season of Bridgerton (Netflix), The Man Who Fell to Earth (Paramount+) and Becoming Elizabeth (STARZPLAY).

China will be represented for the first time at Series Mania with the selection of Gold Panning in the International Panorama section. This section also includes Sunshine Eyes, an independent German series. One of this year’s guests of honor is Michael Hirst, the British showrunner of The Tudors and Vikings, who will be in Lille to present his new series Billy the Kid. David Simon is in the program with his new series We Own This City. The festival’s program also features two series that were initially pitched at the Co-Pro Pitching Sessions: Hors Saison (Off Season) and Des gens bien (Good People).

The Series Mania Forum features the always-popular Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, which offers a €50,000 ($56,000) grand prize. The sessions’ jury will be led by Antony Root, executive VP, head of original production at WarnerMedia EMEA & U.K., as president. Joining Root on the international jury are Noel Hedges, executive VP of acquisitions at Entertainment One, U.K.; Yi Qiao, director ZDFE.drama at ZDF Enterprises, Germany; Yaël Fogiel, producer, co-founder and co-director at Les Films du Poisson, France; and Daniele Cesarano, head of drama at Italy’s RTI Mediaset Group. The Series Mania Forum program also features exclusive sessions with Beatrice Springborn, Lars Blomgren, Simone Emmelius, Christian Vesper, Caroline Hollick, Manuel Alduy, Julie Meldal-Johnsen and more.

A highly anticipated spotlight in the schedule, the Lille Dialogues is set for March 24, featuring “passionate discussions about how and why the industry must support bold creativity and original storytelling under this year’s theme,” according to Capurro.

“The Lille Dialogues has become a popular point of focus because it is the only place that brings together European lawmakers and international TV industry leaders for a day-long international summit,” he adds. “It encourages joint reflection on the challenges facing the TV industry and promotes international cooperation.”

This year’s theme is Empowering the Audiovisual Industry with Creativity, and it will feature six panel discussions, plus several keynotes delivered by industry executives and political leaders exploring the role of creativity in the European audiovisual industry. Keynote speakers include Margrethe Vestager, executive VP of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and the commissioner for competition; Raffaele Annecchino, CEO and president of ViacomCBS Networks International, now known under the name of Paramount; Georgia Brown, head of European originals at Amazon Studios; and Priya Dogra, president of WarnerMedia EMEA & Asia. From the French industry, Lille Dialogues will welcome Delphine Ernotte-Cunci, CEO of France Télévisions and president of Union Européenne de Radio-Télévision, and Gilles Pélisson, CEO of TF1 Group.

As a whole, the Series Mania Forum will reflect on the major challenges of the industry. Key panels include: With Local Content Going Global, What’s the Future of Scripted Formats?; A New Start: From Feature Film to Series Production; Investing in Talent: How to Drive New Narratives; Forum Innovation Talks: the Metaverse, a New Creative Space for Series?; and Forum Innovation Talks: Deciphering Platform Algorithms.

“Series Mania Forum is the not-to-be-missed event for TV industry professionals, parallel to the Series Mania Festival,” Capurro says. “It is the place to meet key decision-makers in the industry, discover projects in development and network with emerging and well-established talents. Our rich and diverse program has something for everyone and is the place to be to discover the best new series in development.”