(L-R) Jeffrey Walker, Sarah Lambert and Jason Stephens at Series Mania.
Lingo Pictures’ Lambs of God didn’t win any prizes at Series Mania but the comedic drama adapted from Marele Day’s novel was warmly received by audiences and French critics.
The first two hours of the Foxtel-commissioned miniseries created by Sarah Lambert and directed by Jeffrey Walker had their world premiere in the International Panorama section of the festival staged in Lille, northern France.
Starring Essie Davis, Ann Dowd, Jessica Barden and Sam Reid, Lambs of God follows three nuns, the last survivors of the order of St. Agnes, who live in a convent on a remote island. Reid plays Father Ignatius, an ambitious young priest who plans to turn the property into a money-making luxury resort and is kidnapped by the nuns.
The cast includes John Bell as a bishop, Damon Herriman as Father Bob, Daniel Henshall as the local cop and Kate Mulvany. Don McAlpine was the DOP – his TV drama debut – and Kirsty McGregor was the casting director.
Lambert, who produced with Jason Stephens and Elisa Argenzio, said: “There was a fantastic crowd and great response from the French to the knock-out performances, the costumes, make up, production design, cinematography and the extraordinary score – a real testament to the cast and crew’s hard work and talent.”
LeParisien nominated Davis, Dowd and Barden for the best actress prize (which went to Marina Hands for Mytho), observing: “The hallucinatory scenario offers them a pleasurable partition between scenes of sacrifice and unexpected violence.
“Between horror and dark humour, the first two episodes have delighted us from start to finish.”
The French magazine Premiere likened the drama to a cross between Rob Reiner’s 1990 classic Misery and Jimmyo Burril’s 2009 thriller The Good Sisters and praised the performances of the lead trio as anti-heroines who put the real world and its temptations and its traumas aside.
“A very effective storytelling trick allows their past to fit naturally into the story, in the form of falsely fictional stories they tell themselves by the fireside,” the review said.
“The direction reinforces their mental and physical confinement with some very beautiful aerial shots of the island, sublime decor of an eccentric miniseries…If a potential French buyer reads us, please take out your chequebook.”
Sky Vision is handling the international sales to the show financed by Foxtel, Screen Australia, Create NSW, Screen Tasmania and Cumulus VFX. Foxtel has yet to reveal the air date.
Series Mania competition winners
Grand Prix: The Virtues
Created and written by Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne (UK)
Directed by: Shane Meadows – Production: Warp Films, Big Arty Productions – Broadcast by: Channel 4 (UK)
Special Jury Prize: Just for Today
Created and written by Nir Bergman and Ram Nehari (Israël)
Written and directed: Nir Bergman – Production: Endemol Shine Israël – Broadcast: Yes TV (Israël)
Best actress: Marina Hands, Mytho
Written by: Anne Berest – Directed by: Fabrice Gobert – Production: Unité de Production, ARTE France – Broadcast by: ARTE (France and Germany), Netflix
Best actor: Stephen Graham, The Virtues
Best series: Exit
Created by Petter Testmann-Koch, Øystein Karlsen
Written and directed by: Øystein Karlsen – Production: Fremantle Norway – Broadcast: NRK (Norway)