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France chooses Lille as home for Cannes-style TV festival

France pushes on with state-backed TV festival which could take place in April.

France has chosen Lille as the host city for a state-backed Cannes Film Festival-style event dedicated to television series.

The northern France city was among five locations to bid for the event in November alongside Paris, Cannes, Bordeaux and Nice.

The choice was made in consultation with a number of film and TV professional bodies and broadcasters overseen by the National Cinema Centre (CNC).

“The location unanimously agreed on by the professionals is Lille,” said the body in a report detailing the decision.

The CNC said the aim was to launch the festival as early as 2018.

“France needs to position itself quickly with regards to such an event because international competitors are establishing themselves elsewhere,” said the CNC report.

“The festivals of Berlin and Toronto are trying to position themselves [in the drama domain], without real success until now, while lighter events like C21 in London and LA Screenings are also gaining in importance.”

The decision is likely to put a cat among the pigeons in France’s already complex film and TV festival and market eco-system.

The Lille and Paris bids were supported by two different existing TV events: the four-year-old Séries Series, which has taken place in Fontainebleau in June, and the Paris-based Séries Mania.

Created by state-backed Paris-based audiovisual hub Le Forum des Images and taking place in April, the latter event has become increasingly important for TV drama professionals from across Europe.

The CNC said that while the decision to choose Lille had been unanimous the general consensus was that the team behind Séries Mania should be involved in the new festival. It is not clear how this will play out.

Cannes event

In the backdrop, Cannes mayor David Lisnard – who felt strongly that the new festival should take place in Cannes – is pressing on with the launch of International Cannes Film Festival of Series.

Former French minister of culture and communication Fleur Pellerin, who first floated the idea of a state-backed TV festival in 2015, was announced as the president of the inaugural edition earlier this month.

The event is being put together in partnership with Reed Midem, organiser of the TV and content markets MipTV and MIPCOM as well as French pay-TV group Canal+ and will run alongside MipTV in April.

The partners are due to release fresh details on the festival at a press conference on April 3 during MipTV.

Choice of Lille

The CNC said the reasons behind the choice of Lille included the fact it offered festival facilities in a concentrated area as well as it being easily accessible for visitors travelling from across Europe, although it admitted that TV stars would probably be more drawn to an event in Paris. 

The proposal of Le Forum des Images by Séries Mania had been regarded as unsuitable, due to its size and location, said the CNC.

In other details, the CNC said the preferred period for the new festival would be during the month of April, taking into account the dates of MipTV.

It added that format would be a festival with professional meetings running alongside aimed at creators, producers and distributors.

There were no plans for a market in the vein of MipTV or Mipcom at this stage.

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