At last. After a cancellation in 2020 and two postponements due to the pandemic, the third edition of Séries Mania begins this Thursday, August 26 in Lille and will run until September 2. After two first rather successful northern editions, the international series festival was stopped in full swing by the health crisis.
A year and a half after the scheduled date, Series Mania therefore resumes its flight on unusual dates and without huge international stars due to the current context. But as explained by Laurence Herszberg, Managing Director of Séries Mania, the main thing was above all to relaunch the machine and find the public for this necessarily special 2021 edition.
After a cancellation in 2020 and two postponements due to the pandemic, the third edition of Séries Mania will finally begin this Thursday in Lille. Are you relieved?
Of course we are happy to find the public, to find Lille and to be able to do our job in fact. There is once again a contact between the spectators, the creators, those who come to give lectures and the entire Séries Mania team which binds everyone together. Afterwards, to tell you that it is simple would be to lie. It is not easy to organize a festival at the end of August during a pandemic period. But it’s stimulating and we feel that everyone wants to meet again. And that’s pretty good.
Did you doubt until the end of the holding of this third edition?
No. From the moment we announced that it would take place at the end of August, I no longer had any doubts. I knew that we would adjust with, for example, international guests who would not come or the installation of the sanitary pass which means that we will certainly have a little less important than usual in the rooms. But I’m not going to count the festival in terms of attendance this year. I will rate it in terms of good humor and reunion. This is what matters to me. Being there is already good.
In view of all the upheavals of these 18 months of pandemic, have you wanted to throw in the towel?
No. I was stressed, I ate a lot of chocolate but we are a great team and very close to Séries Mania. And each time, we bounced back together. When there was one who had a little less morale, all the others came to support him. It’s the best team I’ve had since working in culture. And the strength of this group means that we have managed to overcome the difficulties.
The first two editions took place at the end of March. Could Series Mania be scheduled from now on at the end of August?
Never, never again in August. It is not convenient because everyone is on vacation in July-August and it is difficult to work. In addition, we need students for this festival in Lille where there are a lot of them except in summer. And then there are also other festivals already installed on this niche from August-early September such as La Rochelle or Angoulême. We come to overturn a game already installed. So no, these are not the right dates. And above all, these are not our dates.
Does that mean you’re already working on an edition for March 2022?
I already have some ideas for the next edition but let me already have the pleasure of savoring this festival after two years of absence. This 2021 edition was so difficult to give birth that we have to live it fully.
Exactly, what should we expect from this 2021 edition of Séries Mania?
It is really an edition placed under the sign of reunion and conviviality. We have more than 2,000 accredited when we thought we had 1,000 to 1,500. It will be a popular festival with a demanding program. We will have soap operas for the general public like “Tomorrow belongs to us” or “Un si grand soleil”. There will also be guests like Muriel Robin who will speak about her dramatic roles in the series. And we will also have special guests like former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. He was asked to take a step back from the series and shed some light on politics. He will therefore speak of politics and series on the occasion of the adaptation of his book “In the shadow”. In total, we will have 180 guests.
Who will be the big international star of this 2021 vintage?
It will be Audra McDonald. She is a little less well known in France than in the United States where she is a super star. She is at the same time an actress, a lyric singer but also an actress of series. She knows how to do everything and she is also a committed woman. She comes to receive the first Etoile award which is an award created to reward an international personality who has contributed to the world of series. She also comes to present “The Bite”, a series which is the only show designed around the Covid in this edition. She embodies a dermatologist confined to her home who does her consultations through Zoom. And she realizes that people infected with the virus become zombies. Which results in some hilarious scenes.
What are the main themes addressed this year in the selected series?
These are the social struggles that the Germinal series begins in a new adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel. There are less political struggles this year but there are more social conflicts that are addressed in the series. We see the socio-economic subjects that pierce through in particular female figures.
It’s a pretty pessimistic view of the world …
Yes, but there won’t be just that. There will be series that make people laugh in particular “Nona and her daughters” with Miou Miou who finds herself pregnant at 70 years old. We will also have a night of comedy and then the arrival of stand uppers like Nora Hamzawi or Ramzy Bedia who will come to talk about the stand up series that inspired them. In fact, the trend is not bleak, it is quite eclectic.
With this pandemic and these unrelenting upheavals for a year and a half, has reality not gone beyond the fiction of the series?
In fact, the writers were the first to talk about the virus. In 2014, the Dutch series Cordon spoke of a virus that escaped from a laboratory that infected people nearby to the point of closing the neighborhood to prevent people from going to infect other parts of the city. It has some reminiscences of the current situation. Same thing in 2019 where a German Sloborn series sees a respiratory virus invade an entire quarantined island. The writers were the first to imagine that a virus could take precedence over everyday situations.