CANCUN, Mexico — Parox, one of Chile’s most internationally-minded TV production houses, is set to produce 10-part “Silver Bridge” (Puente de Plata), a 1950s-set, true-events-inspired drama series tracing the cocaine trade’s origins back to the Huasaffs, a Chilean mob clan.
Billed as a feminist action-melodrama come narco series, “Silver Bridge” is produced by Parox’s Leonora Gonzalez, Alvaro Cabello and Sergio Gándara. The series is currently being written by Enrique Videla, co-scribe of Pablo Larrain’s HBO series “Fugitives” (“Prófugos”) and “Ventana,” the feature -debut of emerging Chilean auteur Rodrigo Susarte.
“Silver Bridge” has tapped development finance from Chile’s Corfu, part of its Ministry of Economy. Gándara and Gonzalez introduced the project to potential co-production partners and global platform execs at this year’s MipCancun market.
Much is made of Colombia’s narcos. Far less is known, let alone hits TV screens, of Chile’s. By the end of WWII, a small legal cocaine business limped along in Peru’s rural Huánuco. It was war waged on the Andean cocaine by the Federal Board of Narcotics (FBN) and the out-and-out criminalization of cocaine in Peru from 1952 which sparked an ever more vibrant cocaine business. That was controlled in Chile by the Huasaffs, Chileans of Lebanese descent, who imported cocaine paste base from Bolivia, used chemicals of Chile’s northern desert mines to refine the coke, then distributed it to mines and also brothels and parties of high-society Valparaiso.
In “Silver Bridge,” Fatima, one of the few female medical students at Valparaiso’s school of medicine, faces sudden impoverishment until she meets Amanda Huasaff, the youngest family scion who runs Valparaiso’s most exclusive brothel. The attraction between Fatima and Amanda is instantaneous.
But, as the Huasaffs come under pressure from the police and rival Cuban cartels, it is up to the two women to think up a new MO cocaine business. Decades before Colombia’s cartels, this would convert the Huasaffs into the undisputed first drug queen-pins of Latin America.
“The family spread over Chile, one daughter was dispatched to Valparaiso, another was sent to Santiago de Chile. We’re taking the trie story of Valparaiso and the brothel and creating a faction, with a fictional character,” González noted.
The prevalence of women in the fiction reflects an historical reality: the Huasaff clan had a strong presence of women, said Gándara.
“Silver Bridge” looks set to offer some of the traditional pleasures of mob entertainment. Sudden mortal flash-points; the subjugation of personal happiness to clan suzerainty; the triumph of intelligence over brute force in what Gándara called a “mafia actioner.”
But it will also “reboot and bring innovation to the narco drama genre, with new scenarios and romantic melodrama beats involving women who want to dominate a world controlled by men,” said Gonzalez.
Development is now fully financed. Parox is now interested in attracting a partner in line with the development and which produces content for all Latin America or is directly a digital platform, Gándara added.
“As a pitch, we say that this is like a ‘Narcos’ prequel. Chile ran the cocaine trade out towards the U.S. and Europe until 1973 when Pinochet staged his coup, expelled Chile’s narco-traffickers, expropriated their production plants and began to produce cocaine to finance his secret service,” Gandara commented.
He went on: “Some settled in Colombia and the rest is history, he added, saying he would like the series to have at least two more seasons, the third finalizing with Pinochet expulsion of the narcos from Chile.
Founded by Sergio Gándara and Leonora González, Parox has produced feature film, TV series and documentaries since 2005. TV fiction hits take in Chilean network TVN’s “El reemplazante” and “Los archivos del Cardenal” plus local adaptations of both HBO’s “In Treatment” and Juan José Campanella’s Argentine comedy “El hombre de tu vida.”
Parox is currently in post-production on “Invisible Heroes” – shot in Chile over 66 days with three days in Finland in mid-December – a political drama-thriller set during Chile’s 1973 military coup co-produced with Finnish public broadcaster YLE.
“Invisible Heroes” will be launched at 2019’s MipTV.
Parox also developed for NBC an English remake of TVN’s sci-fi TV series “Gen Mishima” in partnership with Sergio Aguero (“Red Band Society”) and “Numbers” showrunner Ken Sanzel.
A vibrant co-production forum, rolling off the extraordinary demand for premium fiction in Latin American, MipCancun ran Nov. 14-16.