Montreal-based Connect3 Productions and Sao Paulo’s Boutique Filmes, producer of hit Netflix Brazilian original series “3%,” have forged a co-production partnership to develop and produce “The Chase,” a high-end scripted series about Nazi hunters.
Inspired by true events, the English-language series turns on the extraordinary covert operations carried out by a small group of Israel’s Mossad Nazi hunters as intelligence surfaced in the 1950s that Latin America had become a safe haven for many of the most terrifying of Nazi war criminals.
Connect3, headed by Pablo Salzman, and Boutique, founded by brothers Gustavo and Tiago Mello and “3%” DoP Eduardo Piagge, will present the series to U.S. companies and attend January’s Natpe market, where the title looks set to be a banner Latin America-set project.
International Emmy-nominated creator-writer Rodrigo Castilho, whose credits include HBO Latin America series “The Business” and Globosat series “Mothern,” is attached to develop the series.
The series’ three seasons will range over 20 years, tracking Mossad special agents as they battle to dig up clues, hunt down, capture and prosecute three of the most notorious of Nazi fugitives. Season 1 focuses on the man-hunt for Adolf Eichmann, an Eastern Europe Holocaust organizer captured in Argentina in 1960, Season 2 on the heinous Josef Mengele, sought for his Auschwitz genetic experiments. Season 3 homes in on Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” who attempted to replicate a Nazi regime in Bolivia.
The one-hour drama’s seasons will run to eight episodes, said Gustavo Mello, producer, Boutique Filmes.
Drawing on the research and findings of Cineflix Media’s docudrama “Nazi Hunters,” which was aired in over 100 countries, the thriller series is being structured and developed to qualify as a Canada-Brazil treaty co-production.
The Mossad agents, some of whom repeat from one season to the next, will be composite characters, inspired by real-life operatives, some still alive. “A classic suspense espionage thriller, but featuring multiple man-hunts,” since the agents will also be hunted down by the Nazi leadership in Latin America, ‘The Chase’ will have something of a “Narcos” flavor, said Mello.
“It’s surprising how little is known about these stories, considering how extraordinary they are, and there are multiple stories” said Salzman, president, Connect3.
The historical context is also compelling, he added: “There were proto-fascist dictators in Latin America and Israel was a brand new country with very limited resources which decided to take on this true mission for justice,” he said, commenting that the series also “talks about pure evil, which is a universal theme.”
The special agents had sometimes to fight against daunting odds, not only hostile Latin American dictatorships who saw the Nazi arrivals as a source of valuable military expertise but the sheer number of Nazi fugitives: Rat Line operators, organized by the Catholic Church and CIA, petitioned Latin America governments for about 5,000 visas for German and Austrian Nazis, said Mello. The Nazis also had a large body of local supporters.
“The Chase” has the potential to cast actors from the U.S., Canada, Israel, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. It will shoot in Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia.
“This is a prime example of the internationally-appealing projects that Connect3 is looking to collaborate with producers on,” said Salzman. “Our companies are on the same creative page and we’re determined to develop a compelling drama that will reach viewers around the world.”
“The Chase” marks one of the early project announcements at Connect3, backed by Cineflix Media, to focus as a development-production partner on first-class TV content for the North American and international markets, rolling off Cineflix Media’s expertise in international co-production and acting as a bridge between independent TV series creatives, often based out of foreign territories, and platform and broadcast and partners.
“Our mission is to bring together key collaborators and talent to work together on projects with global appeal,” Salzman said.
“We are living in a very connected world and the stories we are focusing on have an appeal in their local markets like Latin America but also in international market: They can really travel,” he added.
The Nazi hunters fiction thriller also signals the first series from Boutique after “3%,” a futuristic dystopia-set thriller. Netflix’s first original series in Brazil, “3%” was described by Netflix on its release as the most watched non-English Netflix show in the U.S.
“Co-developing allows us to work with top talent and leverage opportunities on a global scale, expanding Boutique Filmes’ presence in the international market,” said Mello.
He added: “We’ve got the right players in place to create another gripping and acclaimed series.”
Inspired by events known but not known well enough by potential audiences around the world, “The Chase” also underscores what looks like the next move for Latin American TV production: The break out into robustly
international drama as it moves from upscale drama with foreign-market upside to shows conceived from their very origin, and often developed with overseas partners, as international productions.
“‘More than half ‘3%’ audience came from abroad. We are at a historic moment, the first time in the history of television in Brazil when it can become a truly international player, ” Tiago Mello said.
Since 2013, two Boutique Filmes productions have been nominated for the International Emmy Kids Awards: in 2015 and 2017 “Zu’s Zoo,” broadcast by Discovery Kids, in the pre-school category; and in 2016, “SOS Fairy Manu,” aired by Globo’s Gloob,” which was was nominated for best animation.