Kevin Macdonald Spy Thriller, Israeli Orthodox Drama Win Series Mania Development Awards

Projects from Oscar-winning Scottish director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), Philippine filmmaker Erik Matti (On the Job) and Austrian auteur Barbara Albert (Nordrand) have been picked as the most promising new TV pitches at this year’s Series Mania festival.

Macdonald’s George Blake, a real-life spy thriller about the famed double agent, and Matti’s The Squatter, an East-meets-West crime story about a secretive Filipino maid and a tenacious Ukrainian detective who team up, won this year’s Beta Development Awards and will receive $54,000 (€ 50,000) each in development cash from European production and sales company Beta Group.

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In addition to his feature work, which includes The Mauritanian with Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster, and State of Play starring Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe, Macdonald has helmed several acclaimed documentaries, including the Oscar-winning One Day in September (2000), 2004’s Touching The Void and 2013’s Marley.

Matti’s crime thriller On the Job 2: The Missing 8 premiered in Venice in 2021, where it won the best actor honor for star John Arcilla. His other credits include 2019’s BuyBust and Honor Thy Father (2016).

Albert’s Nordrand screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival in 1999. Her 2003 feature Free Radical premiered in Locarno and her period drama Mademoiselle Paradis screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017.

Beta’s Content Division, led by CCO Koby Gal Raday, will work closely with the teams behind the two projects to bring the pitches to the pilot script and packaging stage.

Albert’s Sleeping Swans, a dark mystery drama about a mysterious illness striking the children of a small Eastern German town, picked up a €20,000 ($21,700) bursary as the winner of the Kirch Foundation Award, presented in collaboration with the University of Television and Film in Munich.

An Israeli project, That Hole, won the development award presented by Series Mania’s Forum industry section. The show pitch, from creators Orit Fouks Rotem, Adi Goral, Batya Deil and Miri Milstein, is a dramedy about a bridal counselor who transforms an Orthodox “prayer hotline,” aimed at strengthening women’s faith, into a channel for sexual awakening for her devout community.

The project will receive $22,000 in development funding to bring the idea to the small screen.

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