‘The Actor’ Tops Series Mania, as ‘The Fortress,’ Michael Sheen, Margot Bancilhon Win Big Awards
LILLE, France — Headed by a commanding performance from Navid Mohammadzadeh, superbly shot and packing arguably the best opening scene of any series in Series Mania main competition, Navid Javidi’s “The Actor” won the Grand Prize at Series Mania on Friday night.
The top Series Mania award for the “The Actor” also proves vindication for the Festival which this year has broadened its geographical reach in an effort to discover new narrative modes and styles. Consistently subordinating narrative to mood, “The Actor” certainly wins on that score.
Main scribe John Kåre Raake (“The Quake”) and co-scribe Linn-Jeanethe Kyed (“Bø”) scooped best writing for “The Fortress,” a banner upcoming Viaplay title produced by Norway’s Maipo Film and sold by TrustNordisk, which delivers a telling political cautionary tale for our times, a chic isolationist parable thriller set in an alternative Norway which has built a wall to keep foreigners out. When a virus strikes, it becomes a prison.
The main theme of the series is that to solve the problems we have to solve, everybody needs everybody, Kåre said on stage at Lille, accepting the award.
Michael Sheen took actor for his performance in BBC’s “Best Interests,” a family and disability drama written by Jack Thorne (“The Virtues,” “Help”) in which he plays a character whose conduct is questionable but absolutely relatable and often heart-rending – if the reaction from a Lille audience is anything to go by.
“To work on anything that Jack Thorne has written is award enough,” Sheen told a closing ceremony audience by video.
The best actress award went to Margot Bancilhon for “Haven of Tears,” a well-received series from Arte France, Mediawan’s Ego Productions and Cannes Directors’ Fortnight winning filmmaker Vincent Maël Cardona (“Magnetic Beats”).
“Blackwater,” the latest from ITV-owned Apple Tree Productions took best series for a double crime mystery and premium public broadcaster drama, here for SVT, set in 1973 and 1991 in deep Sweden, which broadens the focus of Nordic Noir in its powerful atmospherics and bigger picture of a rural community facing individual and collective oblivion.
In another major win, “Little Bird,” an indigenous-led drama showrun by Jennifer Podemski, (“The Rez,” “Empire of Dirt”) following the life of Bezhig Little Bird, a victim of the Sixties Scoop in Saskatchewan, scooped Series Mania’s Public Award for the best title at any section in the festival, save for its Short Format’s Competition.
Best direction in International Panorama went to Mexico’s Ernesto Contreras for “I Have to Die Every Night,” a touching love letter to 1980’s Mexico City, framed by a coming-of-age tale, when a whole young generation of Mexicans discovered new freedoms, thanks in part to a glam gay scene, assailed by an autocratic regime and then AIDs.
On stage at Lille, Contreras dedicated the award to the communities which had battled “homophobia, discrimination and repression” during these years in Mexico City.
Best Series in what looked like a strong French Competition was won by “Under Control,” a political satire lampooning the French ruling class, created by Charly Dewart for Arte and sold by Federation Studios.
Ben Croll contributed to this article.
Series Mania 2023 Prize Winners:
“The Actor,” (Nima Javidi, Iran)
John Kâre Raake, Linn-Jeanethe Kyed (“The Fortresss,” Norway)
Margot Bancilhon (“Haven of Grace,” France)
Michael Sheen (“Best Interests,” United Kingdom)
“Blackwater,” (Mikael Marcimain, Sweden)
Ernesto Contreras (“Tengo que morir todas las noches,” Mexico)
Rotem Sela, Gal Malka (“A Body That Works,” Israel)
Eran Naim (“Innermost,” Germany, Israel)
Student award for Best Series
“Funny Woman,” (Oliver Parker, United Kingdom)
“Under Control,” (Erwan Le Duc, France)
Clémentine Célarié (“Six women”)
Carel Brown (“Aspergirl,” France, Belgium)
Best Original Score
Maud Geffray, Rebeka Warrior (“Split” France)
SHORT FORMS COMPETITION
“Autodefensa,” (Miguel Ángel Blanca, Spain)
Best Series by a high school students Jury of the Hauts-de-France
“Rictus,” (Arnaud Malherbe, France)
“Little Bird,” (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Zoe Hopkins, Canada)
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