Canneseries 2020

Cannes international series festival gets underway despite Covid restrictions

Still photo from Atlantic Crossing, starring Sofia Helin and Kyle MacLachlan in the running for the Canneseries international series competition, October 2020
Still photo from Atlantic Crossing, starring Sofia Helin and Kyle MacLachlan in the running for the Canneseries international series competition, October 2020 © Dusan Martincek

The signature pink carpet has been rolled out, and everyone who’s anyone in the world of series is either live or on-line for the 3rd Canneseries international festival and competition which runs until 14 October. 


It’s the industry event of the year, designed to showcase what’s new in the booming market of audiovisual products for television and streaming platforms.

Organisers say they’ve had to scale back Canneseries significantly due to the Covid-19 epidemic, limiting the number of seats to 1,000 instead of the usual 2,300, and increasing cleaning services.

"It’s safer to come to Canneseries than it is to go to your local supermarket," David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes told the French AFP news agency, holding out hope that maintaining the festival will give a much-needed boost to the culture economy which has suffered greatly since the national lockdown in March.

"Canneseries is the only festival for series which can take place in person, so we have a responsibility," Fleur Pellerin, French former culture minister and president of the festival told the press.

The organisers have also invited competitors who were obliged to cancel events such as Série Series, La Rochelle and Séries Mania.

The festival, which normally offers free access to the public, saw 25,000 spectators participate in the 2019 edition, and some 400 professionals. This year, it is clear that due to travel restrictions, the numbers of overseas visitors will be down.

To keep up momentum, this year’s competition screenings and round-table discussions will be made available online, with free registration.

Of the ten prizes to be awarded, one is decided by the public, another by high-school students, who vote online.

An all-French jury has been selected to debate the entrants in person.

One hotly anticipated release is Swedish supernatural series Cryptid about unexplained goings-on among a group of college kids in the fictional small town of Morkstad.

The 10-part show was added to the official selection for Canneseries in April and is one of a record six Scandi productions among the 10 series in competition.

Its originator is the acclaimed French graphic novelist Sylvain Runberg, known for adapting Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy into the graphic novel format.

Another hot pick is Norway’s Atlantic Crossing, a historical series depicting the journey of Princess Martha (Sofia Helin), who finds refuge from the second world war, thanks to her friendship with American president Franklin Roosevelt (played by Kyle MacLachlan).

Online screenings

The other candidates in the running are Swedish productions Top Dog and Partisan, the Finnish Man in room 301, the Russian 257 reasons to live, Losing Alice from Israel, Red Light from the Netherlands, the British Truth Seekers and French productions Moloch and Cheyenne et Lola.

The festival opened with a screening of The Flame, a parody of reality TV by Jonathan Cohen.

To wrap up proceedings next Wednesday, there’s a screening of the American series #Freerayshawn, which anticipated the Black Lives Matter movement, and Ovni, a comical X-Files created for Canal+.

For professionals, the festival is also hosting a residence for young script writers and a masterclass called the "Writers' Club". 

The Cannes Film Festival, cancelled in May due to the Covid pandemic, has meanwhile reinvented itself in a mini version to be held 27-29 October.

It will screen four of the premières selected from the 2020 competition.

A selection of films will also be screened as part of the line-up at Lyon's Lumière Film Festival which is due to kick off this weekend, unless the newly-enforced Covid restrictions intervene.


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