• A total of 13 productions hailing from US, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, France and Canada will compete in this edition
• Representatives of some of the most relevant festivals and digital platforms are present as jury members and will give talks for creators
The fact that society has changed their way of consuming audiovisual material is no longer surprising news. But what is shocking is that the role of web series is finally being considered in this evolution. Cinema Jove has dedicated an Official Section to Web Series for the last four years, and, this year, a total of 13 productions will participate, hailing from US, Spain, Argentina, Switzerland, France and Canada, accompanied by renown presenters in the genre.
“In the beginning, they were series that you could carry in your pocket and view whenever you wanted, with short episodes that lasted somewhere between 8 and 15 minutes. Web series were, at that time, a perfect and necessary parting point in the boom of fiction divided into episodes,” comments María Albiñana, head of this Section at the International València Film Festival.
This year, comedy dominates the section. For example, the swiss BIP, by Vicent Bossel, about the hobby of a cashier that everyone has shared at least once: observing and imagining other people’s lives. The series will premiere in Spain at the Festival, together with the north American series America, by Jonathan Avigdori, about a group of migrants pursuing the American dream.
The British farce Dreaming Whilst Black also aims for laughs, by offering an analogy of what it means for minority race and gender groups to prosper in the film industry, while the Russian erotic In Bed, by Shota Gamisonia, aims for the same through the exploration of the exhausting sex, emotional love, solitude and promiscuity of its characters.
Some of the comedic proposals have also been selected in other prestigious festivals, like SusaneLand, by Andrew Olsen, that was presented at Sundance, and displays different moments of the eccentric life of a young woman; or Argentinian Noche de amor, by Pedro Levati, that premiered at Canneseries this year, and portrays the preparation of the wedding of a rebellious, feminist and liberal daughter in the midst of a traditional family.
There are also two Spanish projects that aim for laughs. One of them is the most successful web series by AtresMedia, Gente Hablando, by Álvaro Carmona, where universal topics are displayed through conversations between different characters, portrayed by performers such as Manuel Burque, Verónica Echegui and Rosario Pardo. The other one is the original and ground-breaking Barbitúrica Burlesque, by Borja Segarra Bueno and Marta Romero, about a “masseuse” in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona who offers other types of services to her regular clients.
Documentary, science fiction, suspense and drama
The non-fiction genre will be present through the documentary series Kynnstlah. A series of portraits, by Joel Fendelman and Sandra Bertalanffy, where visual and scenic artists are discovered in their own working space. Their interviews are enrichened by a visual exploration of their creative processes.
Lastly, there is also a space for other genre lovers. An Argentinian suspense series has been selected, M, by Javi Devitt, about the presence of something supernatural in a Patagonian forest; and two science fiction series are also included: US’ The Well, by Adam Wheeler, about a secret government experiment, and British The Grade, by Joseph Simmons, about an unconventional private school. This last series will premiere its presence in Spain at the Festival, as will Canadian drama Vieux Jeu, by Quentin Fabiani, about an old bowling alley owner who decides to retire and sell his business after working there for 50 years.
An international jury
The jury that will decide upon the awards of the selected productions includes the vice-president of Warner Bros. Digital, Lance Sloane, the founder and director of Berlin Webfest, Meredith Burkholder, and the head of development of Russian-American production Company Bazelevs, Maria Zatulovskaya. Her Company has produced films such as Searching, premiered at Sundance 2018, and Unfriended: Dark Web, presented at South by Southwest 2018.
Bazelevs has developed a new audiovisual narrative, with stories told through a computer screen. This is portrayed in terror thriller Profile, which will be screened in Spain exclusively at Cinema Jove.
The film is based on the book In the Skin, by French journalist Anna Erelle, about her research on the recruitment of young women by ISIS. The production, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, has been filmed entirely and convincingly, as if it were taking place on a computer screen, through conversations of the main characters on Facebook, FaceTime and Skype. It received the Audience Award at both the Panorama Section at the Berlinale 2018 and South by Southwest Festival.
Round tables and information capsules
“Every year, more creators, producers and directors of other festivals look towards Cinema Jove’s Web Series section in anticipation. We are a reference to other festivals and events, and have managed to become one of the most prestigious international festivals in this field,” considers Albiñana.
The development of the Section has gone hand in hand with the development of the creators, as the festival intends to motivate, help and support them through workshops and round tables during the days of the Festival. For example, after receiving several awards at Cinema Jove, French production Osmosis has been taken up by Netflix, where it has been acclaimed by the audienced. And Spanish production Dorien, after its successful participation at the Valencian Festival last year, has opened to the international market and has received numerous awards.
This year’s Section also includes round tables and information capsules: half-hour panels where specialists present specific information to professionals. After the screening, a round table on new storytelling formats proposed by Bazelevs, and coordinated by Maria Zatulovskaya will take place.
The training program is completed by an information capsule presented by the coordinators of PlazaRadio podcast Las entendidas, who will share the key elements for a web series to be of interest to mainstream platforms such as HBO and Netflix and be transformed into a series.
On Sunday, June 23rd, a round table has been arranged to address the past, present and future of the format. The founder and director of Berlin Webfest Festival, Meredith Burkholder, will present her complete guide on web series, for which she has analyzed over 6.000 series.
The meeting will be complemented by a training capsule offered by the administrators of AtresMedia’s digital fiction platform, Flooxer, Cinema Jove’s Web Series Official Section offers an audiovisual field almost exclusive to the younger audiences. As the Festival Director, Carlos Madrid, considers “it is a world with its own rules, that is increasing its number of viewers, and its value could be compared to that of the short-film field, as they are normally debut or second-time projects, where creators can express all of their spontaneity and creativity in a framework of absolute artistic freedom, as many of the projects are self-financed.”