Webfest Berlin, one of the leading global showcases for episodic short-form content, will hold its seventh edition as an online event running from Dec. 13-15. This year’s edition will be the festival’s first under the banner of Red Carpet Studio, a web series promotion and development outfit that also runs Russia’s Realist Web Fest.
“Webfest Berlin is one of the first web festivals in the world, and, thanks to this project, the web series format has filled its niche in the global film industry,” says Red Carpet founder and Webfest Berlin chief Anton Kalinkin. “In total, we received about 2,000 applications from more than 60 countries around the world. These are diverse and multi-genre works that reflect the current situation in the web industry.”
Members of the jury include German actor Hannes Hellman (“Tatort”), Kazakh performer, stunt coordinator, and showrunner Yerden Telemisov (“Warrior”), German-based sales exec Leonid Godik (Beta Film), and Webfest Berlin founder Meredith Burkholder. All will choose from an official selection that showcases 27 projects from 13 countries in six competitive sections.
Of the six sections, those for Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror, and Non-Fiction will feature five titles each, while four will compete in the Pilots section and three in the German Series slot. Alongside awards for each of those sections, three more prizes will also be attributed, with one for Best Performance, one for Outstanding Artistic Contribution (e.g. Best Editing, Best Cinematography or Best Sound Design), and the festival’s Grand Prize, open to all 27 selected projects.
This year’s Drama category will feature the Russian-language “Strings,” a Y.A.-skewing series about four students preparing for a music competition, the three-part dramedy “Dead Center,” about a girl searching for her missing brother in the Australian Outback, the Kazakh revenge-thriller “Night Witches” (pictured), the Filipino LGBT romance “Meet Me Outside,” and “Arthur – Season 2,” the follow-up to the Swiss serial killer series that won a prize at Webfest Berlin’s 2016 edition.
The Comedy section includes two French titles and two from Russia. On the Gallic front there’s the war sendup “Marcus & Mercier” and the off-kilter haunted house tale “Dhanasri, the Julies and the Ghosts”; from Russia there’s the somewhat self-explanatory “YouTube Policeman,” and the rather deceptively titled “Married Life Scenes,” whose title elides the fact the central couple are a pair of serial killers. Spanish gangster farce “Bizi Txarra” (“The Bad Life”) rounds out the competition.
Potential breakouts from the fantastic banner include two horror anthologies: While American production “Tales From Black Manor” was put together using archival and stock footage during the recent lockdowns, the Canadian effort “Creepy Bits” promises “bite-sized horror” in instalments that all run below three minutes in duration. On the non-fiction side, the series ”I Am Beirut” captures the wounded city through the eyes of six local video artists.
“It seems to me that we are now in a time of rethinking the rules,” says Webfest Berlin chief Anton Kalinkin. “I would even say they no longer exist at all. Everyone makes whatever they respond to most. Therefore, I believe that we are living in a great time for producers, as well as for the viewer, who are offered a huge amount of diverse content.”
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