Osamah Sami and Kamel El Basha in 'House of Gods'.
The ABC and Matchbox Pictures drama House of Gods; short-form rom-com series Videoland, from Melbourne production company Pikelet Pictures; the Lingo Pictures-produced NZ series After the Party, and the Queensland-shot Apples Never Fall have been selected for this year’s Series Mania in France.
House of Gods will screen in the international competition, alongside Apples Never Fall and series from the UK, France, Germany, and Norway.
Co-created, starring and executive produced by Osamah Sami, the six-parter follows the lives of an ambitious Iraqi Australian family grappling with newfound power and privilege when their charismatic patriarch is elected head cleric of their local mosque.
Fadia Abboud directed the series, which also stars Palestinian actor Kamel El Basha, Maia Abbas, Safia Arain, the late Simon Elrahi, Priscilla Doueihy and Majid Shokor.
Shahin Shafaei co-created the series with Sami, which was developed by Blake Ayshford, produced by Bree-Anne Sykes and executive produced by Sheila Jayadev, Ayshford and Debbie Lee.
The Heyday Television-produced Apples Never Fall, for Peacock in the US, is based on a book by Australian author Liane Moriarty.
It stars Sam Neill and Annette Bening will play Joy and Stan Delaney, two former tennis coaches and parents to four adult children. After decades of marriage, they have finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. But after Joy disappears, her children are forced to re-examine their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh eyes.
The cast also includes Alison Brie, Jake Lacy and Aussies Georgia Flood, Essie Randles and Conor Merrigan Turner. Matchbox Pictures managed production Australia. Melanie Marnich served as writer and showrunner, while also executive producing with David Heyman and Chris Sweeney, who directed multiple episodes.
After the Party, which Lingo produced alongside Luminous Beast for TVNZ, will screen in the Panaroma Competition, and marks New Zealand’s first ever entry into Series Mania.
The series centres on Penny, a mother and high-school science teacher (Robyn Malcolm), consumed by a distressing conflict with her ex-husband (Peter Mullan).
Helen Bowden produced, alongside Liz DiFiore and Peter Salmon, who directed all six episodes. Jason Stephens, Dianne Taylor and Malcolm executive producers. Writers include Taylor, Sam Shore, Martha Hardy-Ward and Emily Perkins.
Videoland will screen as part of the comedy competition, making its world premiere. Set in video store in the ’90s, the 6 x 10 minute series follows 17-year-old employee, Hayley, who needs help figuring out what being a lesbian entails. Naturally, she turns to the movies, but finding meaningful representations proves challenging. Without any positive role models for her on screen, Hayley must find a way to be herself, embrace her sexuality and impress the girl of her dreams.
The series, which was supported by both Screen Australia and VicScreen, is produced by Scarlett Koehne and Jessica Smith, with Smith also serving as writer and director. The pair formed Pikelet after working in production management together on Clickbait, finding they had shared values regarding equity and diversity in the industry. Videoland is their first project.
“We’re incredibly proud of this series and the hard work the entire cast and crew put in to bring the vision to life. To be selected for Series Mania is truly an honour and to know our message about the importance of representation is both clear and appreciated is genuinely a dream come true. We couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Smith.
Koehne added: “We believe in our work, but to have it recognised by such a distinguished festival alongside such experienced and well-established filmmakers, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone. We never dreamed of achieving this level of success with our first series, it’s a really exciting sign of things to come”.
The cast of Videoland includes Emmanuelle Mattana, Chi Nguyen, Tahlee Fereday and Toby Blome. Sky Davies is the DOP and Shannon Bivano the production designer.