‘Paradys, a Bold South African Crime Thriller From Keshet International, Wins Series Mania’s Forum Award

Ticking multiple boxes, and a competition frontrunner,  “Paradys” walked off on Tuesday night with the Series Mania Forum Best Project Award, the biggest industry plaudit at one of Europe’s largest TV festivals.

A novel crime drama “Paradys” is produced by South Africa’s Quizzical Pictures and Keshet International, which also handles international distribution. The project was pitched at Series Mania by Quizzical producer Nimrod Geva and creator-writer Darrel Bristow-Bovey.

Carrying a €50,000 ($55,000) cash prize, the award marks a triumph for Keshet International’s ever more expansive production reach, and for Johannesburg-based Quizzical Pictures, part of South Africa’s burgeoning premium series production scene and a Rose D’Or-winning production company for “Hopeville.”

The series is also the first from South Africa selected for the Forum’s Co-Pro Pitching Sessions, its industry centrepiece.

Also created by Anton Visser and executive produced by Avi Nir for Keshet International, “Paradys” turns on two Black police officers called in to investigate a brutal murder in Paradys, the last whites-only enclave in South Africa, a town in the northwest dry bush country on the banks of the Orange River. 

“They must work together to navigate an upside-down world of shifting allegiances, apocalyptic cults, and covert interference from the American alt-right to finally uncover a truth that is neither black nor white,” the synopsis runs. 

“Paradys” is described by its makers as a “tense, character-driven murder mystery.”

“As South Africans who have lived through Apartheid, we’re shocked by how the Western world’s future is starting to resemble our country’s past,” Geva told Variety when the series was announced. 

He went on: “We are powerfully drawn to examine racism and identity, how good people do bad things, how forgiveness can be a double-edged sword, and what happens when people try to insulate themselves against others. We want to tell a moving, exciting, thrilling story that questions the easy answers.” 

“The project was presented with passion and precision. Although the setting is local, we believe the story, its themes and its characters will also resonate for audiences outside South Africa,” said Antony Root, EVP and head of original production, WarnerMedia EMEA, the CoPro Pitching Sessions president.

“The country is well known for the high quality of the international productions that shoot there. To see the same standards applied to a distinctive and ambitious local project will be very exciting,” he added, saying that the jury decision was unanimous. 

“We are delighted to be honoring this series which encompasses intriguing locations, complex characters, and timely and relevant issues. I have no doubt this series will soon find the perfect partners,” stated Laurence Herszberg, Series Mania founder and general director.

More than the cash prize in itself, presentation at and a win at Series Mania’s Forum are large boost for any title in arguably the most prestigious series project forum in Europe.

Series pitched at the Forum take in last year’s Series Mania winner “Blackport,” as well as “No Man’s Land,” The Mediapro Studio’s “The Head” and last year’s winner “Red Rainbow” from Ukrainian producer Alexander Rodnyansky.

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