Wins for ‘House of Gods’, ‘Apples Never Fall’ at Series Mania

Kamel El Basha at the Series Mania Awards.

House of Gods‘ Kamel El Basha and Apples Never Fall‘s Annette Bening have topped the actor categories in the international competition of the Series Mania Festival in France while Videoland was awarded Best Series for the Comedy Competition.

El Basha plays charismatic patriarch Sheikh Mohammad in the ABC and Matchbox Pictures drama, which centres on the lives of an ambitious Iraqi-Australian family as they grapple with newfound power, politics, and privilege following Mohammad’s election as the head cleric of their local mosque.

Shahin Shafaei worked with Sami to co-create the series, which was developed by Blake Ayshford, produced by Bree-Anne Sykes, and executive produced by Sheila Jayadev, Ayshford, and Debbie Lee.

The Palestinian actor told IF he hoped the win would help House of Gods reach more people worldwide.

“Winning means that I was working with the best team, hard-working people, wonderful family spirit, and supportive producers,” he said.

“I am very proud and happy.”

Bening stars opposite Sam Neill in Apples Never Fall, with the pair playing 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.

Other winners in the international competition included French English-language thriller series Rematch (Grand Prize) and German series Herrhausen – The Banker and the Bomb (Best Screenplay).

Pikelet Pictures’ Videoland was one of six projects selected for this year’s Comedy Competition alongside Chameleon (Belgium), Les Oubliettes (Canada), Smothered (UK), Players of Ibiza (Germany), and Extra(France).

The series, written and directed by Jessica Smith and produced by Scarlett Koehne, follows 17-year-old video store employee, Hayley, as she figures out her sexuality in the 90s in a story designed to celebrate the queer community and the history of film.

Smith said it felt “incredible” to have the series recognised at the festival.

“It was a huge win for us, especially as a comedy,” she said.

“You never know how well your jokes are going to land for an international audience but they really embraced it. And while this was a very personal story to me, it’s certainly not a unique one and it was wonderful being reminded how universal the themes are.”

Series Mania Festival ran from March 15 – 22 in Lille, France.