Indian web series ImMATURE, a coming-of-age story about the first adventures in a young mans life, has been selected for the first edition of the Cannes International Series Festival - CANNESERIES.
The fest, which aims to highlight series from all over the world to give an international voice to this increasingly popular new art form, will be held from April 4-11 at Cannes.
The yet-to-be released web series by The Viral Fever (TVF) has been created by Sameer Saxena of "Permanent Roommates" fame, and directed by Prem Mistry.
ImMATURE is the only Indian web series at the CANNESERIES Digital -- a competition dedicated to short formats -- that will compete against series from the US, Canada, South Korea, France and Spain.
"We are delighted to be representing Indian creators at CANNESERIES Digital. It's a testament to our work and creativity. To be screened alongside some of the best work for the web around the world is a victory in itself," Saxena, creator of the show, Chief Creative Officer and Head, TVF Originals, told IANS in an email interview.
He is certain "ImMATURE" will win the hearts of the judges and audience after its screening on April 11 at the fest.
It was "a short and comfortable process" for the series team to make it to CANNESERIES.
"Representatives from the festival reached out to us after the Best Scriptwriting win for 'Tripling' at the Asian TV Awards. We chose among our upcoming series for one that fits the profile for CANNESERIES, and its programme director Jean Michel Albert and team confirmed our selection," said Saxena.
"With digital entertainment taking centrestage, the festival comes at a great time. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the best work this year and meeting the creators to compare notes. It's an exciting time to be a creator of entertainment for the web, and CANNESERIES is a big step towards recognising that," he added.
"ImMATURE" is a five-episode comedy/drama series that focuses on the life of 16-year-old Dhruv, who is in a hurry to grow up. With a little help from his school friends, Kabir and Susu, Dhruv sets out to woo the first crush of his life, the feisty and out-of- his-league, Chhavi.
Venturing out of their childhood, in their last years of school, the three friends find their first drink, pick their first fight and mend their first broken hearts.
"'We realised that as creators, we wanted to make something special for this age group. We have told stories with more grown-up themes before -- start-ups, live-in relationships, grown-up sibling stories -- but with younger audiences taking to digital faster, we found a great story to bring to life with 'ImMATURE'," said the creator.
Are they planning to send it to more festivals?
"Discussions for TVF screenings at a couple of other prestigious festivals are ongoing. With appreciation from all quarters for our series, TVF will continue to play our part in popularising Indian web series. Indian digital content is going to travel the globe," said Saxena.
Many known names from the Hindi film and television industries are also doing web series. The digital platform is growing rapidly. Why is an international audience still required?
"The web series format has been around for a few years now. As more stories are brought alive online, recognition for great work will set apart the good from the very best.
"International audiences level the playing field, with only the best and most deserving productions getting lauded. With Netflix and Amazon setting up in India, this is a great showcase for the best talent reaching wider audiences.
"So far, outside of Bollywood, Indian content has not made a big dent globally, like Korean or Turkish entertainment has. Reaching international audiences will also help transform Indian entertainment into a powerful cultural export," he added.
Should the Indian government have awards or festivals dedicated to web series?
"Some Indian (state) governments have already started. A few months ago, TVF's contribution to web entertainment was recognised by the Telangana government. National Awards for web entertainment is the next step to provide motivation to creators to do more and better work," he said.