Under this year’s motto “Happy Series”, Cannes’ new “It” event is rolling out the pink carpet for a new and spectacular festival
The newly instituted CanneSeries Festival of International Series, premiering on April 4 and going through April 11, could be seen as the famous Film Festival’s Little Sister, but it is anything but small. Initiated by Cannes’ mayor David Lisnard in 2017, the inaugural edition of a high-profile international competition features TV series from all over the world in the Happy Series main event, complemented by an Off festival, CanneSeries Addict. But that is only the beginning: it was the mayor’s express desire that the entire town participates in some way or other, and le tout Cannes answered his call.
Three jurors, headed by novelist Harlan Coben, will select the winner out of ten TV series from Mexico, Italy, Israel, South Korea, Spain, Germany, Norway and England (to everyone’s surprise, no French productions made it into the group.) These series will also be presented to the public from April 8 through 11 at Théâtre de La Licorne. The Off festival at Espace Miramar presents screenings of some of the hottest series on the international market, such as Versailles and Safe, and hosts meetings with French and international TV actors and producers including cast members of popular French series Scènes de Ménage and Section de Recherches. Other highlights include Masterclasses with the likes of Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under, Dexter), conferences, and sneak previews of not-yet published series. And on Saturday, April 7, British actress Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey’s unforgettable Lady Mary Crawley, receives the CanneSeries Variety Icon Award. Ms. Dockery and Sandra Oh, who plays Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, are the headliners in a festival which is mostly geared toward casts and crews. The full programme is available on the CanneSeries website.
All screenings, whether at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès or in movie theatres across town, are free and open to the public. However, you will need to get yourself a ticket to individual events or a festival pass.
And Cannes’ businesses and hot spots join in the fun. Decked out in the colours of the festival – blue, yellow and pink – over 500 participating merchants and bars/restaurants offer special rates or feature TV-series themed evenings throughout the festival. Among those, Morrison’s Irish Pub and Morrison’s Lounge, The Quays, Ma Nolan’s Irish Pub, Barrel pub, Chrysties, La Belle Époque, La Bièrerie and brasserie du Casino, Zoa, L’Entrecôte, Charly’s Bar, Posto Pubblico, Pint House, Hookahs Club, Bouche à oreille, Le Tube, L’Endroit, and C Beach. Galeries Layafette offers a 10% discount for holders of the CanneSeries pass. And music fans get their fix during the Soirées Happy Series on April 5, 6, 7 and 10 from 9 pm to midnight when the streets of La Liberté turn into open air dance floors, animated by top DJs under the themes of Prince of Bel Air, Drake, and Daft Punk.
Apart from the festive aspect, there is also a more academic side to the festival – the CanneSeries Institute, also founded in 2017, has just opened its doors to a first crop of aspiring screen writers. This dual strategy is part of the City of Cannes’ masterplan to become an international leader in TV production, training and employment.
All images courtesy CanneSeries Festival of International Series