Australian dramedy While the Men Are Away to be showcased at Berlinale

Australian dramedy While the Men Are Away to be showcased at Berlinale

Frankie, played by Michela De Rossi. Image: SBS Australia.

An Australian dramedy that views the experience of World War II through the eyes of women has been selected as one of 15 series that will be showcased as part of the Berlinale Series Market, a European Film Market (EFM) trade initiative that targets TV drama professionals.

Produced by Sydney-based TV production company Arcadia, While the Men Are Away follows the story of Francesca (Frankie), who is left in charge of an apple farm after her husband Harry Whitmore enlists in World War II. She recruits local women from the Australian Women’s Land Army and "certified coward" Robert to help her run day-to-day operations.

This is the 10th anniversary of the Berlinale Series Market, which is scheduled to take place from 19 to 21 February at Gropius Bau in Berlin. The upcoming conference will explore industry challenges, trends and perspectives within the demanding world of serial content.

The 15 selected series’ will be showcased at CinemaxX as part of the Berlinale Series Market Selects programme.

The Berlinale Series Market is a joint initiative of the EFM, the Berlinale Co-Production Market, and Berlinale Talents.

“High-quality serial content long ago became an integral part of the market,” EFM director Dennis Ruh says.

“Distribution companies with series in their portfolio are well-rewarded financially. And with the Berlinale Series Market, the EFM has developed into an attractive centre for trading high-quality serial content.

“We are delighted to present a diverse selection of carefully chosen, promising new series from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Australia, featuring a wide range of genres and excellent sales potential.”

Other series being showcased at the Berlinale Series Market Selects include Argentinian series Familia de Divan(Family Therapy), which follows a married couple of alternative therapists who decide to split up, but continue to work together as co-therapists. While they try to help their patients, their own problems will become the protagonists of the sessions.

Another is the Czech series We’re on it Comrades - a paranormal show in which The X-Files meets Monk at a bizarre institution in Eastern Europe. The series is set in 1980s communist Czechoslovakia, and the Cold War is raging: the Soviets as well as the Americans experiment with telepathy and paranormal activities hoping it will give them the ultimate edge.

Two German-language productions were also selected: The drama series Disko 76, which follows the story of Young Doro and how she escapes her restrictive marriage by secretly opening a disco with her brother, and Kafka – a show that centres on Franz Kafka’s life story. The storyline primarily focuses on the points of view of the women closest to him: Felice, Milena, and Dora, as well as his tyrannical father and his best friend Max Brod.

The remaining series that were also selected to take part come from Brazil, Denmark, France, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and the UK.  

The news of While the Men Are Away’s selection comes only days after Trent Dalton’s best-selling book-turned-Netflix-series Boy Swallows Universe cracked the IMDb global Top 20.

Panels at the Berlinale Series Market will address an array of issues relevant to creating a series, such as the challenges posed by budget shifting and cost increases, different funding models, and how to practices social responsibility while speaking to the widest possible audience.

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