Political Thrillers ‘In The Shadows’ & ‘8 Months’ In The Spotlight During Pivotal Election Year — Series Mania

EXCLUSIVE: More citizens will head to the polls this year for elections than any other in history, and the political fever has reached Series Mania.

This year’s event in Lille, France contains four political dramas in competition — not surprising given almost 50% of the world will vote for new leaders in more than 64 elections (including the European Union), according to Time magazine.

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“It is all things political in 2024,” said Leona Connell, Chief Commercial Officer at Newen Connect, the sales arm of TF1 Group’ owned French sales house’s Newen Studios that will representing two of the highest profile political titles at Series Mania, In the Shadows and 8 Months.

In the Shadows (Dans L’Ombre) comes from Versailles and Rembrandt director Pierre Schoeller, who adapted a novel from former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Gilles Boyer, a political insider who served as Philippe’s advisor. Deuxième Ligne Films and Elzévir Films are the co-producers.

The series stars Swann Arlaud as a behind-the-scenes operator in the run up to a fictional 2025 French election aiming to have his boss (Melvil Poupaud) elected to the country’s top office.

In an exclusive interview, Schoeller said he had collaborated closely with Philippe and Boyer on the scripts and technical elements of the show to ensure the book’s mix of entertainment paranoia, ambition and doubt. “A collaboration with a political person who was in the action had never happened before,” he said. “It was a challenged and something audacious. I was the captain of the cut in the end, but they were consulted throughout.”

Bill Clinton and James Patterson had teamed with Showtime to adapt their novel, The President is Missing as a series, but that was cancelled before production in 2020.

Schoeller — in his debut TV series following a feature film career — said setting the action in a fictionalized France with its own timeline (the country’s next elections are in 2027) was a conscious decision to create a “parallel political world,” This allowed the creators to focus closely on the relationship between the potential PM and his confidante — something Philippe and Boyer had insisted on, along with the show highlighting the unique type of humor that exists in political circles, the language used and the fact everything that happens in the show could truly happen in reality.

However, much of what drives In the Shadows is the quieter moments. “What really is at stake is the silence between the candidate and the aide,” said Schoeller. “We see that within circles of power there is a habit to not answer or to say things that are not what they actually think.”

He added that each episode was written to “create a unique political scenario.”

8 Months, meanwhile, is a Swedish drama for TV4 and C More about a journalist whose huge scoop propels her towards being fast-tracked to press secretary to Sweden’s newly appointed foreign minister. However, she realizes that darker forces are at hand as she become close to a Russian intelligence operation aimed at undermining the country’s relationship with NATO.

Adapted from Magnus Montelius’ novel Åtta Månader, the show comes from Anagram and Beside Productions, the Belgium-based production financier that’s also a co-financier of In the Shadows. Director and writer Jens Jonsson and lead actress Josefin Neldén will be in France promoting the show.

“The fact that both series are based on IP is important,” said Newen’s Connell. “8 Months is a very different scenario, more in the spy genre, but it feels very contemporary and relevant to today’s world and comes from a great production company. Both feel very distinctive to us and help the slate we have been building over recent years.”

In the Shadows and 8 Months are not the only political thrillers set to intrigue Series Mania, of course. Herrhausen – the Banker and the Bomb follows the dangerous rise of this visionary banker during the 1980s, when Germany was split between East and West. Star Oliver Masucci will be Lille alongside director Pia Strietmann and screenwriter Thomas Wendrich.

Fremantle has international sales rights to the ARD show, which comes from Sperl Film Und Fersehprodktion, X-Filme Creative, Beside Productions and Avriofilms.

There are also political elements to action thriller Machine, the Arte France that we wrote about ahead of Mipcom Cannes last year. Mediawan Rights is selling the show, which is is the French Competition against the likes of OCS thriller drama Homejacking and Prime Video crime series Ourika.

The Joe Biden v Donald Trump presidential race in the U.S. will dominate global headlines in 2024, while the Tory party faces political wipeout in the UK, if polls are to be believed. Series Mania’s political series screenings suggest the drama won’t just remain the domain of newspaper headlines and TV news coverage.

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