Upcoming Foxtel drama Lambs of God has just had its World Premiere at Series Mania festival in Lille, France, and drawn plenty of praise from audiences and critics alike.
The Lingo Pictures drama was one of just 10 dramas screening in competition, selected from a pool of some 400 entries.
Producer Jason Stephens attended with writer Sarah Lambert and director Jeffrey Walker.
“In television you don’t often get to watch with an audience, so that’s always a joy. We had the ‘cast & crew screening’ the weekend before in Sydney. When we showed it in France with subtitles it was interesting to see the laughs and thrills,” Stephens tells TV Tonight.
“People were saying ‘How do I see the rest of it now?'”
The series stars Essie Davis, Ann Dowd and Jessica Barden as three eccentric, secluded nuns living on a remote island, forgotten by time and the Church – until a priest (Sam Reid) unwittingly happens upon them.
2 of the 4 episodes were screened at Series Mania. While UK drama The Virtues took top prize, the Aussies still attracted glowing reviews:
‘..this is the brat of the official competition, the kind of series that divides but wakes the most jaded festival-goers when they planned to dip a nap in the room of the New Century of Lille. ..’
‘…Lambs of God has kept all the promises of its tantalizing pitch…’
‘…If a potential French buyer reads us, please take out your chequebook…’
‘…the best series of the official competition…’
‘…Lambs of God is ultimately totally different from what is expected and much more enjoyable.’
‘It talks about the adaptation of faith to the modern world, the secularity of the Church, the rapacity of power structures … without, however, denying humor and lightness.’
‘The credit goes to the more than solid trio of actresses sharing the spotlight…’
Le Parisien even suggested Essie David, Ann Dowd and Jessica Barden for a joint Best Actress Award:
‘For us, this award of interpretation deserves to reward the trio of actresses of “Lambs Of God”. Australia’s Essie Davis (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”), American Ann Dowd (“The Leftovers”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Briton Jessica Barden (“The End Of The F *** ing World”) are competing talent in their incarnation of reclusive nuns living as in the Middle Ages. The hallucinatory scenario offers them a pleasurable partition between scenes of sacrifice and unexpected violence. Love also for the French Marina Hands, a mother who invents cancer in “Mytho” series for Arte.’
Jeffrey Walker, Sarah Lambert, Jason Stephens
Stephens says audiences reacted to the mix of genres in the story.
“It’s dark but with comic moments. That’s the thing people were surprised by. The book it is adapted from is very similar. They were really leaning forward, which was great to see.
“People thought ‘Am I supposed to laugh even though I’m quite scared?’”
Review quotes and the prestige of a festival will help for both marketing and selling the series in a crowded drama landscape.
“Given there is so much content these days you need to make the most of your moment. Series Mania as an international event, and with MIP TV next week, was perfect timing.
“The critiques will go into MIPTV where Sky Vision is selling it. So it’s just momentum.
“Once your drama is finished that’s one part of the process. But the second part is getting it out to the rest of the world.”
Lingo is also in post-production on Upright for Foxtel and set to begin filming 6 part thriller The Secrets She Keeps in Sydney for 10.
Lambs of God is due to premiere on Foxtel in winter.