Why has television found its place at the Berlinale?
I never thought of myself as a person who would get hooked into series until now… The series of today are more like little mini films which have smart scripts and great actors and enough money is being pumped into them to provide great settings and wonderful costumes to boot.
In 2010, German director Dominik Graf spoke about his award-winning Face of Crime television series which was a first at the film festival. Face of Crime was a multilayered crime series where the Russian Mafia rules the streets of Berlin. Graf’s work has changed the way we look at crime scenes and he was highly innovative in its script. The next directors to enter the arena were from down under: Jane Campion and Gerald Lee revealing their six-part hit series Top of the Lake in 2013. They had top actors such as Holly Hunter and Elizabeth Moss; rumor has it that Nicole Kidman may be in the next episodes, which are due to come out this year: 2016. This series has a mysterious atmosphere where a pregnant 12-year-old disappears into thin air. Jane Campion’s shrouded symbolism, which she developed in Angel at the Table and The Piano, can be clearly felt in this drama-series.
This year, we had the chance to see the second episode of Better Call Saul by directors Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. This series is a spinoff of one of the most acclaimed series Breaking Bad. In Better Call Saul, the main character Jimmy McGill is played by Bob Odenkirk, an optimistic lawyer, who bends the rules and sometimes makes up his own. This series is brilliantly funny as we watch Jimmy having a mid-life crisis in a swimming pool. Actors are Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian and Kerry Condon. The dialogue is original and hilarious and much of it is due to Odenkirk’s comedy appeal. Unfortunately, none of the cast or directors showed up to give us any insights into this series.
The last-but-not-least series was Cleverman, which is an Australian, American, and New Zealand production, directed by Ryan Griffen. This six-episode series is a science fiction, near-future theme, where hairy humans are being hunted down by other humans. The hairy humans have special abilities, but are treated badly and live under poor conditions. Some of the actors include Hunter Page- Lockard, Iain Glen and Rob Collins. Griffen said the series came from an idea from his son, who simply asked him why there are no Aboriginal super heroes. So he took that idea and went running with it. So, tell me: who can resist a series which came from an idea of a kid? I certainly will be watching this on Netflix which is now in Germany.