More than 500 industry professionals from across the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America have gathered this week for the 2nd edition of Spain’s Conecta Fiction meet-mart, held in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Seven potential TV fiction projects will pitch on Tuesday June 19 as part of Spain’s General Society of Authors and Editors Foundation (SGAE) Laboratory, the screenwriting initiative of the rights collection society.
Participating projects will have an opportunity to present to potential international co-production partners, broadcasters and investment partners who may be able to facilitate their productions getting off the ground. Following their presentations, participants will be given the opportunity to hold one-on-one meetings with interested parties.
Three of the proposed projects are comedies, two are period dramas and a number deal with race and identity politics. Detailed descriptions follow.
“Oro Negro” (“Black Gold”)
The most local of Wednesday’s pitches, Paula Cons’ “Oro Negro” takes place on the Portugal-Galicia border, just south of Santiago de Compostela. Described as a Western, the WWII-era series will substitute the gold in gold-rush with tungsten, used by Nazi’s to harden their munitions. With Spain being the only European supplier, the territory turns into a war-zone, ripe for the picking by the unscrupulous. Cons describes the highlighted period as “a brief time of easy money, luxury and vice that turned remote villages into lawless places.”
A historical-fiction thriller from screenwriter Javier Martínez, “Becqueriana” follows a 19th century paranormal detective of sorts. It kicks off in one of Madrid’s loftiest neighborhoods where Spain’s last witch dies. According to Martinez, “The fantastic narrative tradition of Latin America, more rooted and robust than the Spanish one, invites us to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity that would entail enriching the property with characters and contents from the other side of the Atlantic.”
“El Cuarto Poder” (“The Fourth Power”)
Gemma Ventura’s “El Cuarto Poder” is a thoroughly current proposal, with politics which will feel familiar to many international audiences, although particularly those in Spain. In the series, an ultra-right group rises to power, stirring uncomfortable memories of Franco-era neo-fascism. Spurred by models of current European co-existence and the 2008 financial crisis, which still looms large over the country, the populace is quick to follow a “clean-faced and a perfectly measured and careful discourse that tries to disassociate itself from the ultra-right groups of the ‘40s,” according to Ventura’s description of the series.
“The Poligrafista” (“The Polygraphist”)
A comedy-thriller, Germán Aparicio is pitching this series with a simple premise, a protagonist done with lying. Carlos didn’t lie more or less than most, but after suffering greatly due to a fib, he decides the truth is the only way and becomes a polygraphist. And, while Carlos thinks this will improve his life, things get muddied when he takes a job working for a drug trafficker. “The inner struggle between truth and lies is a universal issue,” said Aparicio of his pitch, “because we all carry a liar inside trying to convince us that there is an easy way to do things.”
“Las Cohen” (“The Cohens”)
Lucía Carballal’s “Las Cohen” turns on an upper-class Jewish family living in Madrid, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when the family patriarch, James, is found dead under suspicious circumstances. While dealing with the changes brought about by the tragedy, the Cohens discover a number of illegalities that James had involved himself in near the end of his life, as well as a secret connection with Judaism, a religion most in the family left far behind them. Carballal said the proposed series “Addresses universal issues such as identity and the search for origin. It is also an opportunity to peek into the unknown and fascinating Jewish community.”
From Danish-Spanish writer Daniel Corpas, “Malaka” is a dark look at Spain’s City of the Sun, Malaga. The tale turns on a rich girl found at the bottom of the sea, a police force and clergy at loggerheads, and the unwelcome appearance of a new drug. Darío Arjona is a corrupt cop who knows the streets and how to keep a tenuous peace, but struggles in dealing with his ex and his teenage son. Darío, his new partner Blanca Gámez and retired officer Quino Romero get tangled up when the corpse of a young, affluent woman is found in Malaga’s coastal waters.
“Teléfono Negro,” (“Black Telephone”)
Roberto Márquez’s “Teléfono Negro” is an otherworldly dramedy straight from hell. In it, Lis Soto is a well-meaning, hard-working honest lawyer who dies an uncharacteristically sinful death. She is mortified when she arrives in hell, condemned to eternal damnation. Lucky for Lis there is an out. In exchange for a commuted sentence, Lis must agree to work for the Black Telephone, an office in hell where operators act as the devils on the shoulder of the living. Unfortunately for her, Lis is a relative novice in doing bad, and must learn on the fly.