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Monte-Carlo Breaks Barriers – Variety

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Running the Monte-Carlo Television Festival since 2012, Laurent Puons has always tried to look ahead. From his embrace of streamers and digital platforms back in 2017 to his growing emphasis on diverse formats, the festival director sees his summer showcase as a bellwether event for the wider television industry – and what the industry could use right now, in Puons’ view, is flexibility. 

“There are already so many festivals today dedicated to series,” Puons explains. “But Monte-Carlo follows a wholly different concept. We’re a home for all kinds of content, and one of the only festivals with both fiction and factual competitions. And when you see what’s broadcast on platforms like Netflix and Amazon, [you need to cover that full range.]”

This year’s edition runs June 16 – 20 and is set to welcome 10,000 attendees and host 1,500 interviews, altogether reflecting Monte-Carlo’s wider aim to offer global partners a full service festival stopover.

“For studios, streamers and TV channels, the festival has become the ideal platform,” says Puons. “You come to the festival, and for four days get incredible access to the international press and to the general public. In a nutshell, what’s going to drive season two or season three, or guarantee a show’s longevity?  The audience.”

Among the titles competing for Monte-Carlo’s Golden Nymph prize are the Rian Johnson created “Poker Face,” the western “The Warrant: Breaker’s Law,” from Imagicomm Entertainment, the historical drama “Ten Pound Poms” from BBC One and Stan, and the Israeli espionage thriller “Trust No One,” created by Ron Leshem (“Euphoria”), Amit Cohen (“False Flag”) and Daniel Amsel (“The Gordin Cell”).  The drama competition will also spotlight new series from Denmark, Japan, France and Spain, making for a real international spotlight.

John Goodman in “True Stories,” 1986
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

John Goodman will lead this year’s jury, lending the fest an additional bit of cachet.

“John Goodman is, quite frankly, a legend,” says Puons. “My grandson loves him, my mother loves him and I love him. He’s crossed several generations with a phenomenal film career, and a phenomenal television career. He’s done it all, played every role. If he wasn’t leading the jury, we’d give him our lifetime achievement award.”

Perhaps another time, as this year’s award recipient is “24” producer Howard Gordon, an “obvious choice,” per Puons.

“’24’ was the leading series of its generation,” says the festival chief. “It achieved a level of popular success and ubiquity that you barely even see today. And he also executive produced ‘The X-Files,’ ‘Homeland’ and ‘Accused,’ so awarding him was a unanimous decision.”

Looking further ahead, as is his wont, Puons would like to break additional barrier in subsequent editions.

“I’d like to open with a major film from a streamer,” says Puons. “Because we could do it; Monte-Carlo has the flexibility, and a film broadcast on a digital platform falls completely within the rules of what we can do at our TV festival. It’s something I’d really like to see… and I’m working on it!”



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