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Programming Profile

Avenida thinks local, eyes global, heads to London


Having carved out its creative niche with French-language content, Québécois prodco Avenida is now set to take on the wider world, says president Chantal Lafleur.


Avenida is a small company based in Montreal, Canada, which prides itself on punching well above its weight in the TV and film worlds.


Founded in 2014 by president Chantal Lafleur, the prodco makes French-language content that is seen around Europe and the Americas, picking up acclaim and industry awards along the way.


“Avenida may be small but we have big ambitions,” says Lafleur. “Our modest size allows us to keep a very close relationship with our content. We pride ourselves on thinking outside of the box and producing outstanding projects that grab the viewers’ attention.”


Chantal Lafleur, Avenida

Headquartered in the province of Quebec, Avenida’s first production was Bing-Bang, a documentary series about the world of demolition racing, which was nominated for the 2017 Gemini Award for best director (Sylvio Jacques) in a factual series.


However, it was the youth-skewed drama series Jenny in 2017 that really established Avenida’s reputation. Across three seasons and 60 episodes, audiences have been touched by the story of the titular character, an ambitious 13-year-old girl whose life is turned upside down by a leukaemia diagnosis.



Featuring a breakout performance from Emilie Bierre as Jenny, the show was nominated for a prestigious Emmy Kids Award in 2019 and won numerous other industry honours including a Kidscreen Award.


“Jenny is Avenida’s best-known show and has done very well for us, selling into more than 20 countries internationally,” says Lafleur. “The success of Jenny energised us to develop other projects.”


Avenida has a content slate that currently includes The Foley, a drama series based on a book by author Annie Claude Theriault and initiated by coproducer Renée Blanchar (Ça Tourne Productions). Set on an isolated island in Canada, the series follows a troubled biologist who investigates her origins, with disturbing results.


Le Ressac (aka The Surf), meanwhile, is the story of a rebellious young girl who lives in north Quebec. After a serious accident, she finds a reason to live thanks to a mysterious encounter with a beluga whale.


Comedy series Costa de Los Solos is set in Spain and follows a man in the grip of a midlife crisis trying to flee his toxic ex-partner. He wings it as a totally inexperienced tourist guide struggling to keep demanding holidaymakers informed in the Costa del Sol region.


Elsewhere, documentary series Secrets de Villages sees host Luis Oliva detail the unsolved mysteries and legendary characters from small communities in the most remote regions of Quebec. It is broadcast on the Historia channel in the province.


Lafleur is looking forward to discussing these projects when she attends development marketplace and conference Content London, staged by C21 in the UK capital from November 28 to December 1.


“I will focus a lot of my attention on The Foley, since part of the series will be filmed in Ireland and it would be nice to do a coproduction with a local company,” says Lafleur. “I also hope to create an English-language version of Jenny, so I would like to talk to interested parties about that as well.”


Prior to founding Avenida, Lafleur was a producer at Productions La Fete for 12 years. Her Quebec connections have resulted in many commissions for Avenida content from broadcasters in the French-speaking regions of Canada, notably TV5, which took Jenny domestically and for its sister network, TV5Unis.


“All our content so far has been produced in French and has been sold into France, Germany, Belgium and Norway, as well as South America,” explains Lafleur. “It’s important because it gives our content strong roots in French-Canada and enables us to build projects.


“However, travelling so much in recent years has given me a wider international vision. The popularity of non-English-language content on Netflix, for example, can provide a potential global audience that wasn’t there before.


“We have people who are talking to the streaming platforms and taking care of international sales, so now with every Avenida project I consider the bigger picture of its appeal in territories around the world.”


Now that Avenida has cemented its standing in Canada and is beginning to make encouraging in-roads overseas as well, Lafleur and her team are looking to take the company to the next level. “I would like to recruit additional staff and use international investment to create new opportunities for Avenida,” she concludes.


“There is no magic formula for success in creating content as every project is different and has its own story to tell, but I always place great importance on listening to public feedback on all our projects, whether they are drama, factual or feature films. We will also retain a strong human element to our content and create original projects that can’t be seen elsewhere.”