Netflix taps into local cinema talent for political drama set against backdrop of France’s third largest city.

Netflix has greenlit its first French original series, a political drama set entitled Marseille, set against the backdrop of the southern French port city due to hit screens at the end of 2015.

The eight-part series, described as “a tale of power, corruption and redemption”, revolves around a city election between the long-time mayor Robert Taro and a younger ambitious candidate.

Netflix’s announcement comes on the eve of its highly anticipated arrival in France – a move that prompted alarm in some parts of the local film and TV industry because it is expected to put pressure on the country’s highly regulated release windows and audiovisual financing system.

Marseille is an ambitious, diabolically smart, fictitious exploration of local politics in one of the world’s most vibrant and fascinating cities.” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

“We are delighted to be working with some of the best storytellers in France to deliver a series that erases the line between film and television.” 

In a shrewd move, the company has tapped into French film and TV talent to make the new series, including writer Dan Franck and directors Florent-Emilio Siri and Samuel Benchetrit

Franck, who recently worked on Second World War miniseries Resistance and co-wrote Golden Globe-winning Carlos, created and wrote Marseille. He also wrote 1994 novel A Separation, which was turned into a hit romance by Christian Vincent starring Daniel Auteuil and Isabelle Huppert.

Siri, who directed My Way (Cloclo), about late pop star Claude Francois, and Samuel Benchetrit whose credits include I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster have signed to direct separate episodes.

Pascal Breton’s Paris-based Federation Entertainment is producing. The company is behind the soap opera Sous Le Soleil and its spin-off Sous Le Soleil de Saint Tropez, which were hits at home and abroad.

“Netflix has given us a blank page to create a House of Cards in French that breaks through unspoken hypocrisy,” said creator and writer Franck. 

“This is a writer’s dream and a great opportunity for French producers and creators to enter a new world,”

Breton added: “Marseille will take the audience right into the political arena where the old regime of traditional politicians are getting ready to face the younger generation of predators, thugs, and sometimes their own heirs.”

Director Siri described the opportunity to work on a TV series as liberating.

“Movies today sacrifice a lot to almighty pacing and often lose the essential: the characters. Current TV series do exactly the opposite, they stretch time and work characters in depth with all their complexities and contradictions,” he said

“The movie business in France today confines itself to comedy or so-called ‘author cinema.’ TV series give movie directors a new opportunity to explore and express their talents within the full extent of their art. This is why I’m really eager to work on Marseille.”