Here are a few of the highlights.
*We were only able to view the first two episodes of French series Moloch, but the beginning looks very promising, and classy. Up-and-comer Marine Vacth (from Francois Ozon’s Double Lover and Matteo Garrone’s Pinocchio) plays a journalist who is determined to get to the bottom of a phenomenon of people spontaneously being set alight. To find out more she seduces a handsome cop (the equally hot Arnaud Valois from the award-winning AIDS drama BPM) and the pair fall for each other in the process. The series won the award for best screenplay – and deserved it.
*The Dutch series Red Light is the brainchild of a company formed by Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones) and actress pal Halina Reijn. In what is essentially a thriller, Van Houten plays a brothel madame and Reijn an opera singer whose husband disappears in Antwerp’s red light district. As a female cop tries to get to the bottom of what happened, the series becomes an expose of human trafficking. It won the prize for best cast.
*One of the biggest Scandinavian productions to date, Atlantic Crossing is a Norwegian series about the little-known heroine, Crown Princess Martha, who helped the war effort in her country via her close relationship with US President Franklin D Roosevelt, played by Kyle MacLachlan. Swedish actress Sofia Helin (The Bridge, Mystery Road) plays Martha with her trademark determination and looks gorgeous in costumes of the period. The series has been picked up by SBS.
*The Swedish Warner Brothers series Partisan won best series; starring Lebanese-Swedish actor Fares Fares (Westworld), he goes undercover to try to catch a money launderer operating out of a kind of Aryan sect populated by gorgeous blonde women and men in the Swedish countryside.
*Probably the most commercial is Amazon Prime’s British series Truth Seekers, the brainchild of Simon Pegg and his buddy Nick Frost as well as James Serafinowicz and Nat Saunders. Pegg, in a supporting role, sports a hilarious wig as Frost’s boss at a broadband company while Frost and his sidekick, Samson Kayo, play the leads. They are sent to fix the connection at a British manor house that was used as a command centre during World War Two, but it seems that a few ghosts from the period are still hanging around and wreaking havoc. This is what truly interests Frost’s character as he uses his job as a cover to perform amateur paranormal investigations.
*The French series Call My Agent! has already been an international hit during its first three seasons (on Netflix in Australia) and the fourth and final season was unveiled out of competition in Cannes as the closing event. As usual we follow the employees in a Parisian talent agency and each episode features a major star ready to send up their public personae. Charlotte Gainsbourg features in the first episode and has a lot of fun with a banana skin. It’s a rare French comedy that has worked internationally because the characters are so well drawn.
*Darren Star, best known as the creator of Sex and the City, delivered an online chat regarding his latest effort, Netflix’s Emily in Paris. Criticised internationally by reviewers and particularly in France, the series delivers in the half-hour sitcom format. Given its winning heroine (Lily Collins) and sumptuous locations, it’s infinitely watchable in these difficult times – for the same reason Friends is experiencing a resurgence, while Dead to Me has likewise been extremely popular (both on Netflix) as a source of escapism.