Has French fiction finally become audacious?

Gone are the days when the majority of French fiction revolved around “murders, disappearances and family secrets”, as Yves Bigot, ex-president of the France selection committee of the La Rochelle TV Fiction Festival, in our columns in 2018.

This year, “the selection allows us to imagine the upheaval we are going through. There is hardly any fiction that resembles what we have known so far. Everything has evolved, everything has increased in quality! “, rejoiced the president of the festival, Stéphane Strano, at the press conference at the Hôtel de la Monnaie in La Rochelle at the end of August. Exit the French fiction “plan-plan”, greeted Marc Tessier, former president of France Télévisions and current president of the France selection committee, at the press conference held at the SACD. So has French fiction finally become audacious? The opinion of the professionals.

French fiction that relies on audacity

“The audacity in fiction is first of all to go on lands, not unknown, but little practiced”, considers Olivier Wotling, director of fiction at Arte France. “It’s a fiction that pushes the walls, both in terms of production value, subject, casting and originality of the story”, according to Anne Viau, director of fiction at TF1.

A glance at the selection shows that the PAF no longer lacks audacity. Toulouse Lautrec high school (TF1) and Handicap (France TV) both feature people with disabilities, the first high school students, the second a special unit of police officers.

The castings rely on more inclusiveness with Internal kitchen (13th Street), Miskina, the poor (Prime Video), or Seventh heaven (OCS), senior romance in a nursing home.

Diana of Poitier (France Televisions), Marie Antoinette (Canal+) and The Fighters (TF1) dusted off the historical fresco. “We stopped thinking that the story was corny”, greets Victoire d’Aboville, associate producer Good Pickaxe Story ( Good Pickaxe Group).

swinging in The house opposite (M6), the pink minitel in 3615 Moniquee (OCS), junk food and animal abuse with The girl with the heart of a pig (France. Tv Slash), Franco-Senegalese gastronomy in Internal kitchen (13th Street) or the fantastic in Vortex (France Televisions), Prometheus (TF1) or even spirit of winter (Art). French television now covers all genres and all subjects.

“There are fewer and fewer taboos,” says Victoire d’Aboville. In 2022, with Oussekine (Disney+) or I promise you (TF1), we even dared to address the Algerian war, a taboo subject which “we have never been so close to seizing”, notes the producer of Bonne Pioche Story.

“It’s very varied. There is a lot more freedom”, congratulates the president of the jury, Sandrine Bonnaire, during a press briefing in front of a handful of journalists. And even the characters “absolutely praise audacity, panache”, observes Victoire d’Aboville. Morgane Alvaro in HPI Where Balthazar in the eponymous series, are its “figureheads”.

Broadcasters in search of audacity

“Canal+ has always been daring, with quality series, and what’s more, popular like Engrenages”, tempers Victoire d’Aboville. ” The Office of Legends has been exported to 130 countries, and very appreciated in the United States”, recalls Jonathan Zaccaï, director, actor and screenwriter, on the poster of The man of our lives.

If certain players like Canal+, Arte, OCS, or France TV. Slash paved the way, the word “daring” has now conquered the whole PAF. Bonne Pioche launched its television fiction subsidiary Bonne Pioche Story two years ago. “I’m very happy to be on the market now, because the chains only tell us this: ‘surprise us’”, applauds Victoire d’Aboville.

Same story on the side of the broadcasters. “Boldness and ambition are at the heart of our editorial line, and this in a variety of genres and subjects unprecedented for an online channel. This is what makes us proud and our strength, “says Anne Viau, director of fiction at TF1. “It’s one of Arte’s missions. I have the feeling that we have our singularity, but so much the better, if the ambitions come together with other broadcasters to try to think outside the box”, rejoices Olivier Wotling, director of fiction at Arte France.

A general audacity due to “the multiplication of broadcasters and projects”, according to Héléna Noguerra, in the casting of The Man of Our Lives (M6), a series skillfully mixing romantic comedy, thriller and drama. “The platforms have brought a different, new wind,” notes Victoire d’Aboville. “Television understood that it had to get up to speed with what is being done abroad. When you see great things being done elsewhere, you want to join in, it’s a form of emulation,” says Sandrine Bonnaire.

Spectators who want audacity

But “boldness only works if it meets its audience. As we have more audacity, we must also reassure. », Considers Victoire d’Aboville. This often involves known talents, who also rely on audacity, such as Audrey Fleurot, all blonde in the harrowing thriller with fantastic accents from Arte, spirit of winter. “She was very enthusiastic, very enthusiastic and rightly so, because of all her opposition to her audience”, greets Olivier Wotling.

“We are addressing a family audience, our desire is to unite a large audience while taking it out of the beaten path. We make bets and he follows us, ”rejoices Anne Viau, director of fiction at TF1. And to analyze: “This is what guides our choices and what the public expects of us. He is more and more a fan of series, he is very demanding and we have to be up to it. »

“Boldness is trusting the spectators”, confirms the boss of the fiction of Arte France, who presented during a press conference this Thursday the new fictions of the Franco-German channel. A program placed under the sign of “eclecticism”. And to develop: “We are betting on a curiosity and an appetite of the spectators, whom it may be necessary to awaken or wake up, but who is there, rather than going towards a proposal which would already be familiar to him”, concludes Odile Vuillemin , one of the heroines ofA man of our livess.

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