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It’s not every day that a festival lives up to the hype we see on TV, radio, or in print. Most promoters promise the moon and stars to potential attendees and then fall flat on their face when the rubber hits the road.  In many cases this can be attributed to poor planning, while in others the festival just isn’t very compelling to begin with.  That said, this year’s 5th installment of SeriesFest in Denver was the exception to the rule.  Not only did they meet their own lofty expectations, they exceeded them across the board for what turned out to be a truly groundbreaking festival in the Mile-High City.

Here’s some SeriesFest highlights courtesy of FerenComm:

On Monday, June 24, 2019, SeriesFest: Season 5, the annual television festival dedicated to championing artists at the forefront of storytelling, celebrated its Centerpiece event at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. ‘SeriesFest's Benefit Event Celebrating TV & Music,’ featured a special advance screening of IFC’s new variety sketch series, Sherman’s Showcase (premiering Wednesday, July 31st at 10PM) followed by a two-hour performance by Grammy© Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Stevie Wonder making his Red Rocks Amphitheatre debut.

A completely sold out audience of 10,000 people, including actress Nina Dobrev, actress Katie Lowes, Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars, actor Peter Mensah, were treated to an array of Wonder classics and a surprise appearance by award-winning singer-songwriter Usher!  The two performed an original rendition of “Ribbon in the Sky” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and included Usher dancing on the piano!

On Tuesday, June 25, Entertainment Tonight’s Philiana Ng conducted a hilarious and thoughtful conversation for a Generation Innovator: Showrunners & Series Creators Under 40 panel, which included Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman (SundanceTv’s “This Close”), Joey Slamon (truTV’s “I’m Sorry”) and Laura Chinn (Pop TV’s “Florida Girls”). Later that day, Oscar®-nominated American film producer/director Steve James was joined by Jessica Stovall and Holly Gordon (Participant Media’s Chief Impact Officer) from America to Me, for a Participant Media innovative “Real Talk” discussion, where the panelists talked about how the campaign helped seed a nationwide conversation around race and equity.

SeriesFest is dedicating this milestone year to the artists, studios, and companies who are taking creative risks and leveraging advances in technology to reimagine storytelling as part of The Year of Innovation. The festival, which concluded on June 26, included screenings of the award-winning pilots from the Independent Pilot Competition previously announced.

As these highlights clearly demonstrate, SeriesFest has once again upped their game throughout their 6-day international television festival in Denver, CO.  Founder and CEO Randi Kleiner along with Chief Content Officer Kailey Smith Westbrook’s long-term vision for SeriesFest is unfolding right before our eyes, and it’s quickly transforming into what many feel will be the premier television festival worldwide.  Their ridiculous work ethic along with an incessant love for episodic storytelling has made this festival what it is today, and I can’t wait to see what they do to up their game in 2020.  If this year’s success is any indication of things to come, I am sure Season 6 will be one for the ages

Susan Wolcott

Assistant Editor - Denver

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