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The Natives, the absurdist fiction series directed by Gilles Coulier, has been nominated for a Rockie Award in the category Comedy Series. Also nominated in the Reality section is Flemish comedy show The Idiots. The prizes are awarded at the Banff World Media Festival in Canada each year as part of one of the most prestigious competitions for television and digital content. The winners will be announced on June 14.
The Natives competes in the category Comedy Series against five other international titles, including The Big Bang Theory and HBO’s Sillicon Valley. In the eight-part series, Gilles Coulier depicts the deranged inhabitants of a picturesque small village who are driven by misplaced ambition and vanity.
After The Natives and Clinch, Flemish public channel Canvas is working on a new fiction series, The 16, which recently started shooting. Created by Willem Wallyn, it tells the behind-the-scenes story of a man in search of political power. The main roles are played by Michael De Cock and Jan Hammenecker.
Winning power in ‘Wetstraat 16’, the Prime Minister’s residence and the political heart of Belgium, is the ultimate goal for vice-premier Steven Kennis. But before he can become Prime Minister, he still has a lot of work to do.
Flanders’ brand-new drama series Beau Séjour has been selected for the seventh edition of Séries Mania (15-24 April), the international television festival in Paris. The series will compete against seven others as part of the International Competition.
Beau Séjour will be presented as part of the International Competition at Séries Mania, where David Chase, the creator and showrunner of The Sopranos, is jury president this year. The series’ story is set in the hotel of the title where Kato wakes up covered in blood and with no recollection of what happened the night before.
Belgian actor Koen De Bouw (The Team, Loft, Salamander) is to make his US debut in the pilot episode of The Last Tycoon, a production by Sony Pictures Television and Amazon Studios. Based on the unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the story is based on the rise to power of legendary Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg in the 1930s. Billy Ray is set to direct the pilot of what will become a 10-part series to be distributed exclusively via streaming service Amazon Prime.
The Last Tycoon focuses on the sex, violence and driving ambitions during the early years of Hollywood. Matt Bomer takes the role of the ambitious Monroe Stahr (based on real-life mogul Irving Thalberg), a man of simple origins who becomes one of the most powerful producers Hollywood has ever known.
Shooting on Gilles Coulier’s debut feature, Cargo, has started on the Belgian coast. Following the success of The Natives, which was directed and part-written by Coulier, Cargo is the third project on the slate of his production company De Wereldvrede. Coulier’s short films Iceland and Mont Blanc screened in Cannes in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Cargo is the story of three brothers who are desperately trying to save the family’s fishing business. But their passion for their loved ones and their determination to stay in business drive them to desperate measures.
Production company deMENSEN has closed a worldwide distribution deal with Lagardère Studios Distribution for its first two fiction series, Beau Séjour and Brothers United. Although scheduled for a release in 2017, Lagardère already screened the first episode of thriller series Beau Séjour during the Drama Series Days at this year’s European Film Market in Berlin. Football drama Brothers United also joins the French distributor’s catalogue.
Lagardère Studios Distribution is one of the biggest distributors of television shows in Europe. “We are very proud to start this collaboration with the highly talented producer deMENSEN on two of the most anticipated series on the international market for 2016,” stated Lagardère.
There was another strong presence from Flanders at this year’s International Film Festival in Berlin (11-21 February). Actress Martha Canga Antonio took the stage as one of 10 European Shooting Stars; foreign films starring Veerle Baetens and Jan Bijvoet were in the line-up; four film professionals from Flanders were picked for the Berlinale Talents initiative; and a variety of Flemish (co-)productions screened in the European Film Market.
Martha Canga Antonio was one of 10 European Shooting Stars in the spotlight during the Berlinale. The actress made an international impact with her debut role as Mavela in Black, a contemporary Romeo & Juliet story directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Previous Shooting Stars have included Matthias Schoenaerts, Alicia Vikander, Carey Mulligan and Daniel Brühl.
Belgian director Jan Matthys will direct the first three episodes of the second season of Our Girl, a BBC1 drama series about a female medic on an African mission. Last year, Matthys worked on the third season of crime series Shetland, shooting episodes four, five and six.
The second series of Our Girl has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC One Controller, and Polly Hill, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, who was previously involved in producing series such as The White Queen, The Honourable Woman, The Missing and London Spy.
Comedy drama series The Natives has been selected for Episodic/Epidemic, a new section at this year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR, 27 January – 7 February) which explores the interface between film and television.
The Cronenbergian title of the programme refers to the idea that TV series have become such a cultural and economic force that they spread like a virus. A follow-up to the Changing Channels programme at IFFR, this new section showcases series that feel like cinema, investigating how thin the line between film and television has become.
New Flemish crime series Coppers, released on Flanders’ commercial channel VTM, is off to a good start. The first episode, which aired on January 4, reached an average market share of 30%.
The 13-part crime series is based on the best selling detective novels by Toni Coppers and follows Liese Meerhout, head of the homicide division. In an ideal world, when a criminal commits a crime he is punished and his victim compensated. But in real life justice can be blind.