SeriesFest 2021 Lines Up ‘Dr. Death,’ ‘Dave,’ ‘Republic of Sarah’ and More

SeriesFest, the festival dedicated to “supporting the art of episodic storytelling and championing emerging voices” announced the massive expansive programming lineup for its seventh season, being held virtually this year from June 24-July 11.

Among the more than two weeks of streaming events are competition screenings, panel discussions, and workshops, as well as never-before-seen sneak peeks and television premieres that address this year’s theme, “What’s Next?”

Here’s a rundown of some of the notable TV events on the schedule.



Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell (Peacock; June 24) — OPENING NIGHT EVENT

In Attendance: Barbara Shearer (Director & Executive Producer), Jennifer Harkness, Nina Burleigh, and Emma Cooper (Executive Producers)

The documentary series will investigate the powerful, connected, and mysterious Ghislaine Maxwell, who was once the heiress to the Maxwell fortune but whose life takes a sordid downturn when she meets Jeffrey Epstein, the serial sex offender. This investigative series will reveal a complicated story of power, sex, and money, which leads to Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest awaiting trial in November 2021. The series, titled Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein’s Shadow, will also premiere on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NOW in the UK on June 28.

Inside Look: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central; Weeknights) — PANEL

In Attendance: Desi Lydic and Dulcé Sloan (Correspondents), Jen Flanz (Executive Producer and Showrunner), Zhubin Parang (Supervising Producer and Writer), and Dan Amira (Head Writer and Producer)

Between a global pandemic and countless social justice crises this past year, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah offered both levity and crucial commentary on some of today’s most uncomfortable truths. Sit down with The Daily Show’s creative team to discuss how the show works behind the scenes to tackle tough conversations, elevate underrepresented voices, and navigate the unforeseen challenges of 2020—all while making the audience laugh. Veteran creatives and correspondents share their insight on what it takes to make a successful show and keep audiences engaged 24/7 with not just the program, but also more broadly with the world around them.

Innovation Talk with Ann Dowd — SPECIAL EVENT

Opening night, SeriesFest will present the SeriesFest Impact in Television Award to the indelible Ann Dowd for her contributions to episodic television. Ann Dowd has portrayed roles that have allowed audiences to experience unexplored facets of the human condition and brought worlds to life in ways most wouldn’t have dared to explore. From the “Handmaid’s Tale” to the “Leftovers” and “Masters of Sex,” she has pushed boundaries with the unique perspectives and characters she brings to life. Her work has continued to inspire and support diverse communities of artists, especially women, both on and off the screen

City So Real (National Geographic) — SPECIAL SCREENING and Q&A

In Attendance: Award-winning filmmaker, Steve James, Zak Piper, and Amara Enyia

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James’ fascinating and complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election, and the tumultuous 2020 summer of COVID-19 and social upheaval following the death of George Floyd.


Innovation Talk with Jennifer Garner — SPECIAL EVENT

In Attendance: Jennifer Garner (Award-winning actor) and Krista Smith (Netflix, SeriesFest Board of Directors)

From the legendary Sydney Bristow in Alias, busting some serious moves in 13 Going on 30, and giving us a look into her life via social media, no one can deny the joy, authenticity, and creativity Jennifer Garner brings us every time she steps in front of the camera. Join Krista Smith, host of Netflix podcast Present Company, and Garner for an intimate discussion on her career in entertainment, and the launch of her plant-based kid nutrition company, Once Upon a Farm, and her philanthropic work in partnership with Save the Children and their initiative #SaveWithStories.

The Republic of Sarah CW

The Republic of Sarah (CW; Premieres June 14) — SPECIAL EVENT

In Attendance: Cast Stella Baker, Luke Mitchell, Hope Lauren, Nia Holloway, Ian Duff, Forrest Goodluck, Landry Bender, Izabella Alvarez, and Megan Follows. Moderator: Damian Holbrook, TV Guide Magazine/TV Insider

Faced with the destruction of her town at the hands of a greedy mining company, rebellious high school teacher Sarah Cooper utilizes an obscure cartographical loophole to declare independence.

Legends in the Game: Paramount+ and MTV Studios’ The Real World Homecoming: New York — PANEL

In Attendance: Jonathan Murray (creator), Kevin Powell (original cast member), Julie Gentry (original cast member). Moderator: George Gustines, Senior Editor, The New York Times

Almost 30 years ago The Real World debuted on MTV and overnight it redefined the genre of reality television. And now Paramount+ has reunited seven of the original roommates for an iconic new season, The Real World Homecoming: New York. Join SeriesFest and The Real World: New York cast members Kevin Powell, Julie Gentry, and creator Jonathan Murray for an in-depth look at the six-episode series which took audiences down memory lane with explosive moments, nineties nostalgia, and televised cultural milestones.


FX’s Dave: The Anatomy of a Hit Comedy — PANEL

In Attendance: Dave Burd (creator, rapper, comedian, actor), Jeff Schaffer (co-creator), Saladin Patterson (executive producer, writer), GaTa (actor), Taylor Misiak (actor), Andrew Santino (actor), Travis Bennett (actor) and Christine Ko (actor). Moderator: Derek Lawrence, Associate Editor, Entertainment Weekly

It all begins with one idea, which turns into a concept…a bible…a script…a pilot…and, hopefully, a hit series. Yet, there are so many people, decisions, and steps in between that are rarely discussed. Sit down with the creative team and cast of FX’s Dave to discuss how the show developed from its pilot episode to become FX’s most-watched comedy series ever.

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video) — PANEL

In Attendance: Paul Kelly (Art Director), Onnalee Blank (sound supervisor), Joi McMillon (editor), and Dottie Starling (VFX supervisor). Moderator: Jazz Tangcay, Senior Artisans Editor, Variety

Join the creative team behind Amazon Prime Video’s new hit new limited series, “The Underground Railroad,” as they come together for a behind the lens conversation. The team will reflect on the show’s inventive artistry and discuss how they create the breathtaking world of the impactful limited series.

Underground Railroad William Jackson Harper

The Underground Railroad


Innovation Talk with Talitha Watkins — SPECIAL EVENT

In Attendance: Talitha Watkins (President & Head, ColorCreative) and Michael Moses(Chief Marketing Officer, Universal Pictures)

SeriesFest is proud to present an exciting virtual talk with the President and Head of ColorCreative, Talitha Watkins moderated by Universal Pictures’ Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Moses. This in-depth conversation will focus on Talitha’s high-impact career in the television and film industry and ColorCreative’s mission to support diverse creators. This is a not-to-be-missed event on the importance of broadening the scope of storytelling to help propel an inclusive and authentic representation of the world on the screens.

Changing the Narrative on TV: Modern Portrayals of Native Americans — PANEL

In Attendance: Michael Greyeyes (actor, choreographer, director), Jana Schmieding (actor, writer, comedian, creator), Angelique Midthunder (casting), Q’Orianka Kilcher (actor, DOG, Yellowstone), Lucas BrownEyes (TV writer, comedian) Moderator: Sarah Whitten, Entertainment Reporter, CNBC Digital

Native Americans on television have often been represented as historical people in different iterations of dramatic period pieces. Television is finally changing that trend with new shows to tell the stories of Native Americans as they are today. Modern Native American characters are a welcome relief for Native creators, executive producers, actors as well as casting directors who join this special discussion focused on Peacock’s “Rutherford Falls,” the FX show “Reservation Dogs” and other series breaking the mold for Native American representation.

Man Eats Wild (Outdoor Channel; Premieres September 20 — SCREENING AND Q&A

In Attendance: Host Mario Kalpou and Nick Hoffman (Nick’s Wild Ride host)

Follow hardcore adventurer and award-winning restauranteur Mario Kalpou on an amazing journey across the globe. Harvesting Wild food in the most extreme environments.


Directing for Television — PANEL

In Attendance: Debbie Allen (Award-winning producer, director, writer, actor and choreographer Grey’s Anatomy, Fame, Insecure), DeMane Davis (Television and Producing Director How to Get Away with Murder, Lift, Queen Sugar, Clarice), Allison Liddi-Brown (Director and Producer Grey’s Anatomy, Forget Normal, Friday Night Lights) and Tom Verica (Director and Producer, Grey’s Anatomy, Bridgerton, The Umbrella Academy)

A special conversation with directors who have worked on some of the most critically acclaimed and influential television series. They’ll discuss how they got their start, working on Shondaland series and beyond, the unique demands of directing television, their creative process and the need for constant innovation, and key insights for upcoming directors.

Innovation Talk with Mark Duplass — SPECIAL EVENT

Moderator: Pete Hammond, Chief Film Critic, Deadline

From his memorable roles on screen to captivating audiences with his work behind the camera, Mark Duplass has consistently pushed the boundaries of filmmaking. Join Pete Hammond, Deadline’s Chief Film Critic, for an inspiring conversation with Duplass covering his latest work with projects like Lady and the Dale, Sasquatch, Her Effortless Brilliance: A Celebration of Lynn Shelton thru Words and Music, and other highlights from his impactful career that continues to encourage and inspire communities of independent content creators around the world.


Dr. Death (Peacock; June 29) — SPECIAL EVENT & PANEL

In Attendance: Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater & AnnaSophia Robb (cast), Maggie Kiley (Director), and Patrick Macmanus (Executive Producer). Moderator: Michael Schneider, Deputy TV Editor, Variety

Based on Wondery’s hit podcast, Dr. Death is inspired by the terrifying true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Joshua Jackson), a rising star in the Dallas medical community. Young, charismatic, and ostensibly brilliant, Dr. Duntsch was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), as well as Dallas prosecutor Michelle Shughart (AnnaSophia Robb), set out to stop him. Dr. Death explores the twisted mind of Dr. Duntsch and the failures of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us.

Dr. Death Joshua Jackson

(Credit: Scott McDermott/Peacock)


The Beast Must Die (AMC+: Premieres July 5, AMC: Premieres July 12) — CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING & PANEL

In Attendance: Jared Harris (Chernobyl, Mad Men), Cush Jumbo OBE (The Good Wife, The Good Fight), writer Gaby Chiappe (Their Finest), and director Dome Karukoski (Tolkien). Moderator: Sophie Gilbert, TV writer, The Atlantic

SeriesFest is proud to debut the premiere episode of the AMC+ Original six-part revenge thriller series, The Beast Must Die, followed by an exclusive conversation with cast and creators. Starring BAFTA Award-winning actor Jared Harris (​Chernobyl, Mad Men​), Cush Jumbo OBE (​The Good Wife, The Good Fight), Billy Howle (​The Serpent, MotherFatherSon), Nathaniel Parker ​(The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, The Outcast) and Geraldine James (Downton Abbey, Back to Life), and based on the novel by Nicholas Blake (pseudonym of Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis CBE), ​The Beast Must Die tells the story of a grieving mother who infiltrates the life of the man she believes killed her son.

Follow @SeriesFest on Twitter. Passes to SeriesFest: Season 7 including all screenings, panels, network premieres, and special events are now on sale at