Series Mania Crowns ‘Apples Never Fall’ Star Annette Bening, Garry Kasparov-Centered ‘Rematch’

It has been a while since “The Queen’s Gambit,” but as proven by “Rematch,” viewers’ love for chess is certainly not diminishing.

The show, dedicated to confrontation between famous chess player Garry Kasparov and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue, was named the winner at Series Mania.

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A somewhat lukewarm reception of “Apples Never Fall” didn’t stop Annette Bening from being crowned as best actress. The Peacock offering, also featuring Sam Neill and Alison Brie, is the latest adaptation of “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers” scribe Liane Moriarty. Now showing a perfect family who, following its matriarch’s disappearance, needs to face some uncomfortable questions. Including this one: Did their beloved father have something to do with it?

Jury member Berenice Bejo read out a brief message of thanks from Bening who described the series as a “labor of love.”

Kamel El Basha, who plays the more progressive Sheikh Mohammad in “House of Gods,” won best actor. His performance was described in Variety as “magnetic,” Thank you very very much. You believed in a Palestinian actor,” he said on stage, to applause.

“Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb” was also noticed. Starring “Dark’s” Oliver Masucci as Alfred Herrhausen, the chairman of Deutsche Bank whose assassination was never explained, it won best writing for Thomas Wendrich. “The series mirrored the boldness of its subject,” said the International Competition jury.

“He was a humane banker, always looking into the future. What you see in this show is a person who tries to do something new and others prevent him from doing it. They say: ‘We have never done it before.’ He says: ‘That’s the definition of the word ‘new’,” said Masucci, with Fremantle’s Jens Richter calling the story “shockingly relevant for today.”

The German show wasn’t the only one with politics on its mind, with just about every other territory hoping to deliver its own “House of Cards” these days, starting with France’s “In the Shadows” and Sweden’s “8 Months,” which took on the previously fantastical concept of joining NATO.

“After the show was greenlit, Ukraine was invaded by Russia. All of a sudden, people started to ask: ‘Should we join?’ And look at us now,” said creator Jens Jonsson.

The Banker And The Bomb
Herrhaussen The Banker And The Bomb

Herrhaussen helped bring down the Berlin Wall. “I am overwhelmed because there are new walls going up in Europe and wars,” Wendrich said, accepting the award.

Daniel Lawrence Taylor’s well-received “Boarders,” combining comedy with a brutally honest look at Britain’s private schools as five Black students are offered life-changing scholarships, also underlined another significant trend: the importance of delivering dark storylines – and social critique – in an entertaining way.

“Comedy gets people engaged, it makes them feel happy, but it’s also a great way to push forward conversation points that many are dreading,” noticed its actor Jodie Campbell.

Laughter and excruciating pain co-existed also in Spanish revelation “La Mesias” – noticed for directing and also recipient of a Student’s Prize – or “After the Party,” which scored Robyn Malcom a win in the International Panorama for her role as a woman who accuses her own husband (Peter Mullan) of sexually abusing her daughter’s friend.

“This award makes me so happy because it comes from the smartest audience in the world: Young people who has grown up knowing about content. We have to protect them from the algorithm,” said Javier Ambrossi, accepting the Student Award in Lille.

Top award in International Panorama went to “Dates in Real Life,” produced by Norway’s Maipo Film for NRK like “State of Happiness,” turns on Gen Z Ida who is dumped by her virtual world lover and sets out to find a physical partner.

Finally, another festival favorite, Riga-set “Soviet Jeans,” took a rather amusing look at the darkest political time, scoring Audience Award and a gong for lead actor Karlis Arnolds Avots.

“People used to joke during communism too: Humor was their main survival mechanism. They still lived and loved and laughed. Most of them had to learn how to trick the system, which was really our starting point,” Teodora Markova – who showruns alongside Stanislavs Tokalovs – told Variety in February.

The full list of awards here:

International Competition 

Grand Prize: “Rematch”

Best Actress: Annette Bening, “Apples Never Fall”

Best Actor: Kamel El Basha “House of Gods”

Best Writing: “Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb”

International Panorama 

Best Series: “Dates in Real Life”

Best Actress: Robyn Malcolm, “After the Party”

Best Actor: Karlis Arnolds Avots, “Soviet Jeans”

Best Direction: “Las Mesias”

Student Award for Best Series: “Las Mesias”

French Competition:

Best Series: “Machine”

Best Actress: Tiphaine Daviot, “Murder Club”

Best Actor: Jérémy Gillet, “A Dangerous Friendship”

Best Original Score: Julie Roué, “The World Doesn’t Exist”

Short Form Competition 

Best Series: “Those Who Blush”

Comedy Competition 

Best Series by a high school students Jury of the Hauts-de-France: “Videoland

Audience Award: “Soviet Jeans”

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