The eight selected projects set to participate in this year’s inaugural edition of the FICG TV Pitchbox, have been announced by the event’s organizers, Filmarket Hub.
In timing and location, part of Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival, the event has the potential to become an important pit-stop in Latin America’s already vibrant circuit of TV events.
Chile features as this year’s guest country of honor at Guadalajara, and is well represented among the selected projects. In recent years the country stands out as a leader in high-end content in both film and television. The latter, however, is far less known.
Oscar wins were scored by Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman” and the animated short “Bear Story,” while the country’s high-end TV drama has excelled with the likes of Netflix’s “Bala Loca,” and shows further promise with the upcoming TV debut of “A Fantastic Woman’s” Daniela Vega in the Larraín brothers’ “La Jauria.”
This year’s eight participating projects play on a number of common themes. While often steeped in drama, many of the series boast comedic relief, or at least humor, as a break from otherwise-heavy topics which have dominated Latin American film and TV for years, such as narco trafficking, ghost stories and the difficulties faced by women in machismo-heavy societies.
The majority of the projects skew young in terms of intended audience, demonstrating more cosmopolitan sensibilities touching on topics such as feminism, non-binary romances and immigration.
A number of the projects are also female character-driven stories, which not only feature women in lead roles, but boast female creators, writers and producers.
Chile’s “Silver Bridge” was created by Alvaro Cabello, Leonora González, Sergio Gándara, and is penned by Enrique Videla. It is produced by Parox’s Sergio Gándara and Leonora González, the most prominent of Chile’s TV producers. A drama, the series follows Fatima, a young medical student in Chile during the 1950’s who becomes involved with a family of Lebanese immigrants in Valparaíso. Together they start to build one of Latin America’s first drug trafficking empires. Over time, Fatima falls in love with Amanda, the youngest daughter of the family. Inspired by historical figures, “Silver Bridge” aims to deliver a new twist on the narco-series genre.
“Villa Santa” is a Mexican dark-comedy created by Sergio Siruela, who pulls double duty co-writing alongside Jesús Prieto and Gabriela Ivette Sandoval. Balassa Films’s Alex Balassa produces. The series takes place during Spain’s economic crisis, and features a family thrilled to learn they have inherited an estate in Mexico.
For the first time, the family leaves their Iberian homeland, only to learn that the estate is nothing more than a run-down funeral home, with which they can do nothing for at least a year. Penniless, the family is forced to pick up the now-family business they know nothing about, while dealing with a number of surprises the estate delivers.
“Kicked Out,” is a Mexican dramedy which turns on a young nationalist Vlogger who discovers, when he is deported from the U.S., that his mother illegally entered the country when he was only a child. Alone and unable to speak Spanish, he must reinvent himself in a place that he always considered hostile and distant. Series is created by Jacopo Fontana who co-writes with Tereza Suárez. It’s produced by Ozcar Ramirez at Arte Mecánica, already a distinguished film producer.
Another Chilean entry, “Rebellious May” was created and written by Paula Parra Bruna, who will be looking for producers in Guadalajara. In the series, Javiera, a chemistry student working on her thesis, is kept from her fungal research subjects by an on-campus demonstration. To cross the line, Javiera picks up some feminist jargon, but over time begins to believe in the message and the cause she’s pretending to support.
Created and written by David Figueroa and Mauricio Leiva Cock, “Tenebris” is a Colombia-Mexico project from producers Fidelio Films. In the series, a washed-up paranormal TV presenter name Gabriel receives an offer from Maria, who is convinced her daughter is possessed. Upon arrival a series of horrific events lead Gabriel to believe that there may be something truly evil rotting away within the young girls of the area.
“Ugamú” was created by Fabián Guamaní, Ingrid Schulze Benavides, Miguel Rumanzew, Yuly Velasco, Fabiola Zurita, and is written by Guamaní Aldaz. Ingrid Schulze at Retrogusto Films produces the animated comedy from Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. The short-form series follows 15 year-old Oscar, who’s best friend is imaginary. A twist on normal imaginary-friend tales, in this series Ugamú must get Oscar to stop believing in him to allow the boy to live a normal teenage life.
Chile’s “Trauco” was created by Pablo Donoso, Nicolás Maynetto y Osvaldo Muraro, and is written by Maynetto and Muraro, with Machete Film & Content’s Cristián Donoso producing. Taking place on an isolated island, the series features a detective who is faced with unbelievable circumstances that feed his past demons, but are grounded in something far more concrete than myth.
Argentine dramedy “Survival Guide” was created by Cictoria Galardi, who co-wrote with Paula Schiselman. It’s produced by Nathalia Videla Peña and Juan Pablo Gugliotta at Magma Cine, again prominent film producers, and turns on forty-year old Esteban, who gives up his career in law to pursue the life of an actor. Things, predictably for the audience if not for Esteban, go wrong, and he must learn to survive with no livelihood.
In addition to this year’s competition, Ramiro Ruiz and José Nacif, producers of hit series “Diablo Guardian,” will host a case study on the show. Based on the novel of the same name by author Xavier Velasco, it was the first Amazon Prime original series in Latin America, and the first production from Televisa Alternative Originals (TAO), Televisa’s premium content division. Leading up to the launch of Season 2, the case study explores the processes of development and financing that made the series possible.
Major Latin American broadcasters had previously confirmed their attendance including Fox Networks Group Latin America (FNGLA), Alazraki Films, EndemolShine Boomdog, Fabula, HBO Latin America and Turner Latin America (FNGLA). Two new participants can be added to that list: Colombia’s Dynamo, a contributor to Netflix’s “Narcos,” and Spain-Latin America’s Telefónica Media Networks, one of the world’s largest telecommunications groups and destined to fire up original series in Latin America as Telefonica’s Movistar + has, with large success, in Spain .
The 34th Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival runs March 8-15.