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Nordic series rock Series Mania and Canneseries

So Long Marianne, Alex Wolff, Thea Sofie Loch Naess / PHOTO: Ronald Plante, Redpoint Productions

Nordic series rock Series Mania and Canneseries

So Long Marianne, Alex Wolff, Thea Sofie Loch Naess / PHOTO: Ronald Plante, Redpoint Productions

Series Mania’s deputy program director Katia Kirby: The quality of the Nordic Series is so high that they could have a program alone. 9 Nordic series are selected for Lille and 5 for Cannes.

When Series Mania opens in Lille on March 15, The Nordics are well represented with 6 series in Competition out of 40 slots, and 3 out of 12 series in International Panorama. A couple of weeks later 5 out of 16 series competing at the Canneseries event, April 5th - 10th, are Nordic or Nordic co-productions.

The Norwegian/Canadian/Greek co-production So Long Marianne has its world premiere at Series Mania’s International Competition. The series tells the legendary love story about Canadian singer-poet Leonard Cohen and Norwegian Marianne Ihlen, two lonely people falling in love, while one is becoming one of the most famous singers of all time. Creator Øystein Karlsen’s Exit was in the same competition in ’19, thus, becoming a Series Mania veteran.

Panorama Competition features Swedish Anagram’s 8 Months (Doktrinen) unveiling the inner workings of political communication and diplomacy in a highly topical thriller by creator Jens Jonsson; WB-Intl’s Swedish/Danish All and Eva (Allt och Eva) on sperm and expectations from creator Johanna Runewad and Norway’s Maipo with Dates In Real Life from creator Jakob Rørvik on love in the metaverse and the pursue of happiness IRL.

In the Short Forms Competition presented in Lille we see Finnish Wildhog’s Limbo Zone (Epätila) on a young homeless woman's struggle from creator Maarit Laaksoharju (a.o.) and Danish Jannik Dahl Pedersen’s The Struggle for existence (Kampen for tilværelsen) on thirty-something men when masculinity is subject to contradictory imperatives.

NFTVF met Series Mania Festival deputy program director Katia Kirby for a talk on her perspective on Nordic drama as a warm up to this year’s festival.

Can you tell a little bit about yourself and your work at Series Mania?

I've been working here for 10 years. Prior to this, I attended university studying cinema, and worked in several festivals and in a production company dealing with distribution.

What are you looking for?

In the falls we're going to different festivals and markets like MIPCOM and C21. We meet international sales representatives, producers and broadcasters to know the lineup, and what series could be ready for March.

I'm not looking for anything in particular other than quality series. It's a balance between the different categories. At the international competition, the first thing we're looking for is a world premiere. We select between world premieres. We try not to have three series from Denmark, for example, or three comedies, so we're trying to balance things between the eight titles.

In Series Mania’s Panorama, we're looking a bit for the same things, but with the knowledge that we can have the French premiere. Because we have only eight slots in the international competition, it's very difficult to select all the series we like. So, we put some of the world premieres in the Panorama as well.

And then we have a Short Series Competition. It's a bit the same for Comedy Section. But not everyone has the same sense of humor, and not all the series are really funny. So, it's a balance.

The Panorama and the International Competition, what is the difference? How do you differ between these two programs?

In the beginning, the International Competition was for world premieres, and the Panorama for world, international and French premieres. It's like the Cannes Main Competition and Un Certain Regard. The Panorama section is a kind of a world tour of series, trying to select the best of what we've seen with less concern for criteria of exclusivity. Since last year, we've changed the awards in the Panorama section a little, transforming the Special Prize into an award for Best Direction and adding two acting prizes. And it's fair to say that the Nordic series recently selected in this section have been well received by the various juries, because the two series to win Panorama's best series prize in the last two years were Swedish Blackwater in 2023 and The Dark Heart in 2022 and the Norwegian Exit in 2019.

Can you see any development or trends in the Nordic series?

The Nordic series are some of the best we receive every year. The directing is always really good. And they're really keen on developing topics in a very fast way. That means that they're capable of turning things that happened very recently into fiction. Like, for example last year we had The Fortress (Festning Norge) from Norway (Viaplay Original produced by Maipo Film), dealing with political and environmental topics, turned into a dystopic/ecological thriller in a very clever narrative. The quality of the Nordic series is so high that they could have a program alone!

There are Nordic series the Short Form Competition almost every year. The Nordic channels target younger audiences and have had a non-linear slot for 15-25 year olds since almost 10 years. And because the Nordics are really keen on showing things like they are, they have a different tone. They have also succeeded - as we saw with Skam - in forging a special relationship between the viewer and the characters.

We have seen enormous changes in the supply chain for TV series in the recent years, how does that influence this year’s selection?

I don't think we are receiving more or less series today, the figure is fairly stable. We receive series from public broadcasters and also from streamers from all over the world. For platforms, particularly American ones, the local premiere is sometimes more important than the world premiere of a series at a festival. They are sometimes reluctant to present their series for the first time if the launch is scheduled for much later. Moving talent to two different continents can also be too expensive. Series production has expanded and broadcasters are investing more and more in this area, so we're lucky enough to receive more and more series from all over the world and that's reflected in our final program.

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Nordic series rock Series Mania and Canneseries

Painkiller / PHOTO: Anders Nicander

Nordic series rock Series Mania and Canneseries

Dark Horse / PHOTO: Per Arnesen, TV2

The series that will compete in April in Canneseries are divided into two categories. The Nordic series in the Short Form Competition are the Swedish Painkiller and the Finnish Money Shot (Toinen tuleminen).The Nordic series in the main Competition are the Danish Dark Horse, the Norwegian Dumbsday (Dummedag) and This is not Sweden (Això no és Suècia), a co-production between Spain, Germany, Sweden and Finland.