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Monte Carlo TV Fest to Open With Sony’s ‘Absentia’; Helen Mirren to Be Honored

Variety logo Variety 5/9/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – The 57th Monte Carlo Television Festival will open with the world premiere of Sony’s new TV series “Absentia,” and will also present Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren with a lifetime achievement award.

Directed by Oded Ruskin, who is known for the hit Israeli series “False Flag,” “Absentia” stars Stana Katic (“Castle”) (pictured) as an FBI agent who disappears without a trace while hunting one of Boston’s most notorious serial killers. The 10-episode thriller skein, set to debut this fall, is a Sony Pictures Television Networks’ original produced by Tel Aviv-based Masha Productions and shot in Europe.  Key cast and crew are expected to make the trek to Monte Carlo for the June 16-20 festival, which will be officially opened by Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The festival, a showcase for high-end international television and for new TV trends, has assembled a wide-ranging lineup this year, the bulk of which sees European and U.S. shows competing for the top prizes. Surprisingly, this year’s selection includes some U.S. shows that have not played well at home, such as CW’s “No Tomorrow,” which has been canceled in the U.S. but which will vie for Golden Nymph Awards alongside recent European standouts such as “Victoria” from Britain’s ITV, U.K. comedy “Fleabag,” and Sky/HBO’s “The Young Pope.”

Other American series competing and expanding their European media exposure include NBC’s “Superstore,” Hulu’s Steven King adaptation “11.22.63,” and Showtime’s “Billions.”

The event’s fiction jury is made up of Argentinian multi-hyphenate Juan José Campanella, director of Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes”; producer Ramón Campos, co-founder of Spain’s Bambu Producciones; French actress Odile Vuillemin (“Profilage”); U.S. actor John Corbett (“United States of Tara,” “Sex and the City”); Canadian producer and writer Peter M. Lenkov (“Hawaii Five-0,” “MacGyver,” “CSI: NY”); and Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (“The Expanse”).

Mirren, whose first major TV role was in the 1970s BBC series “Cousin Bette,” followed by main parts in many BBC shows, most notably “Prime Suspect,” won a Monte Carlo Golden Nymph best actress nod in 2006 for her lead role in HBO’s Tom Hooper-directed miniseries “Elizabeth I.”

“Since its inception, the Monte Carlo Television Festival has been a strong advocate and supporter of the international television business across both drama and documentary programming,” Mirren said in a statement.

Fest CEO Laurent Puons praised her as “one of the most established and highly regarded actresses in the world today,” thanks to “an outstanding career encompassing television, film and the theater.” Mirren is scheduled to receive her prize during the awards ceremony on closing night.

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