Series Mania 2024: Beta Group announced ten projects for the second edition of "Seriesmakers"

Filmmakers from all corners of the world applied to participate in this tailor-made program for feature film directors who venture into the world of series.

4 MAR 2024

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The creative initiative Seriesmakers, headed by Laurence Herszberg, General Director of Series Mania, and Koby Gal Raday, Chief Content Officer of the German-based company Beta Group, has concluded its second edition successfully. Filmmakers from all corners of the world applied to participate in this tailor-made program for feature film directors who venture into the world of series.

The three winning teams will be announced on March 20 in Lille during the Series Mania Forum (March 19 – 21). Two teams will each be awarded a €50,000 Beta Development Award. They will work closely with Beta's Content and Co-Production Division to develop a pilot script and a complete package. An additional award of €20,000, courtesy of the Kirch Foundation in collaboration with HFF (University of Television and Film Munich), will be given to a third project.

One of the selected projects is "Breach," by director Mijke de Jong and writers Giancarlo Sanchez and Jan Eilander. (4x50', The Netherlands). Tells the story of the unapproachable helmswoman Tisa (35), which is tasked with ferrying a crowded boat of wealthy Dutch refugees to Dover, she is confronted with deep-seated traumas from her own past as a refugee, and her authority as captain is challenged by the Europeans who suddenly find themselves in a dependent position. Mijke de Jong's "Layla M." (2016) won several prizes at international film festivals and was the Dutch entry for the Oscars in 2018. 

Another highlight is "Doctor's Oath" by director Mikko Myllylahti and producers Aleksi Hyvärinen and Taneli Mustonen (4x52', Finland). Based on a true story, the title is a highly realistic and suspenseful story of a side-tracked female dermatologist who became the face of Finland's unlikely decision to choose an extremely soft approach to the AIDS epidemic. Mikko Myllylahti's "The Woodcutter Story" (2022) won the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution and was nominated for the Critics' Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Furthermore, another selected project is "Elephant" with director-writer Hajni Kis and creator-writer Dávid Csicskár 7x40', Hungary). Anna (46) is the perfect mother of three, a fantastic wife, and a highly skilled political spokesperson. However, she has a "little" flaw – she needs to drink to do it all. Anna is a functioning alcoholic who gets through the day with concealed shots. One night, she causes a car accident that nearly kills her family by drunk driving. She realizes she must quit drinking immediately. But keeping her life, family, and career on track without alcohol turns out to be unexpectedly difficult. Hajni Kis's "Wild Roots" (2021) was nominated at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

"Freedom Academy" by director Kaouther Ben Hania and producer Nadim Cheikhrouha (8x45', France) is another selected project. In the competitive world of television, a cunning producer and his optimistic wife battle for control of a daring reality TV show set in a high-security prison, hoping to capture the intense competition among incarcerated radicals, all while the jury grapples with their divergent opinions on prisoners' rehabilitation. Kaouther Ben Hania's Cannes Film Festival competition entry "Four Daughters" is currently nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature Film.

Moreover, "George Blake," by director Kevin Macdonald and producer Femke Wolting (6x52', United Kingdom/The Netherlands), was selected. What makes a person turn against everything they ever stood for? The untold true story of one of the most prolific double agents of not just the Cold War but British history, George Blake. Kevin Macdonald's "The Last King of Scotland" (2007) won an Oscar in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and multiple BAFTAs, among others. 

Another selected project was "Play" by director Yorgos Zois and producer Stelios Cotionis (8x52', Greece). A lonely cinephile joins a mysterious group of strangers who reenact movie scenes in real life. Yorgos Zois's second feature film "Arcadia" world premiered at the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival's section Encounters. "Sleeping Swans" was selected by director Barbara Albert, writer Ulrike Tony Vahl, and producer Martina Haubrich (8x52', Germany). In a coastal town in Eastern Germany, the idyll turns into a sinister nightmare when children inexplicably fall into a mysterious condition. Renowned expert Ellen Lennardsson is called in to decipher the secret. In a desperate race against time, she fights against inexplicable forces and the insurmountable resistance of the community. Barbara Albert's "Nordrand" (1999) was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. 

"The Squatter" by director Erik Matti and producer Ronald Monteverde (8x52', The Philippines) was selected at Seriesmakers. A dead body in a rural town. A fraudulent London charity. An East-meets-West crime story. With their hopes and futures at stake, a secretive Filipino maid and a tenacious Ukrainian detective have to unravel the mysteries of a crime just as the crime itself unravels who they truly are. Erik Matti's "On the Job 2: The Missing 8" (2021) was nominated for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival and won the Best Actor category at the same festival. 

"The Willow Song" by writer-director Guy Myhill and writers Tony Phillips and Sophie Vaughan (8x50', United Kingdom) were also selected. A young Black American GI leaves the segregated Jim Crow South for 1940s Britain to join the war against fascism. He grows politically, falls in love across the race line, and learns firsthand that his biggest battle is not against Nazi Germany but the pervasive brutality and bigotry of the United States Army. Guy Myhill's credits include "The Goob" (2014). It was nominated at the Venice Film Festival and won the British Independent Film Award, among others. Finally, "Willz" by director-writer Amir Manor and director-writer Guy Raz (10x40', Israel) was highlighted at SeriesMakers. Following his friend's unexpected layoff, an impulsive and highly persistent courier unites the rival courier tribes in the Willz food delivery syndicate to improve their working conditions. When the couriers realize they could never beat Willz by playing by the rules, they join forces to rob a bank, banking on their transparency and the tools at their disposal. Amir Manor's "Epilogue" (2012) was nominated at the Venice Film Festival (Venice Days) in the category Best Film, among others.