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Pol-ka Expands Outside Argentina, Optioning ‘El Cielo a Tiros’ (EXCLUSIVE)

PAMPLONA, Spain  —  Taking a new expansive step as an international content player, top Argentine production house Pol-ka, has optioned small-screen rights to “El cielo a tiros,” the latest novel from “Rosario Tijeras” author, Colombian novelist Jorge Franco.

Pacted via Scenic Rights, the deal sees Pol-ka planning to shoot a drama series based on the book in Medellín, Colombia in 2020.

“El cielo a tiros” will become the first Pol-ka series produced entirely outside Argentina, marking part of a long-term expansion at the Adrián Suar-headed company as it adapts to the challenges and opportunities of a new TV landscape.

Published in 2018, “El cielo a tiros” turns on the children of Medellín’s drug lords of the 1990s, following one, Larry, who returns to Colombia after 12 years abroad to reclaim his father’s remains from a mass grave. He reencounters his childhood best friend, Pedro, and his mother, a former Colombia beauty queen, now sunk in depression and drug-addiction, and discovers a city, Medellín, which still shows the ravages of the past.

Through the scions of the former Medellín’s mob kingpins, Franco’s aims to deliver a critique of a whole generation of Colombians born after Pablo Escobar’s death, he has said.

Rights to the novel were negotiated through Scenic Rights, a Spain-based literary agency which represents the stage or screen adaptation rights of most of the the major writers in Latin America.

Launched in 1994 by actor, producer, writer and broadcast executive Adrián Suar, Pol-ka began by producing “Poliladrón,” a cop-thief comedy, and soap “Gasoleros.” In 2003, it won the commission to produce Latin America’s first premium pay TV series, HBO Latin America’s “Epitafios.”

Since then it has teamed with Disney to make “Violetta,” an international calling card, struck a strategic co-production alliance with Turner Latin America from “The Fragility of Bodies” in 2016 when  it also co-produced “Love Divine” with Mexico’s Televisa, and snagged a Netflix order for the streaming giant’s third Netflix Original Series order in Argentina. 2017’s “The Bronze Garden” was hailed by HBO as its most-watched Latin American series of the year.

The rights deal on “El cielo a tiros” takes Pol-ka’s international business to a new level, however.

“At first, we made shows for our country, Argentina, said Pol-ka Manuel Martí, head of development and international business.

The advent of competition and inflation have progressively scythed Argentina’s TV advertising market, so a next step has been to make shows “for the world from our country,” Marti continued.

The Jorge Franco adaptation takes Polka even further into international.

“The next step is to shoot shows outside our country – in Colombia, Mexico, Spain – like a studio that has the knowhow, besides the muscle. We have to think internationally, finding the right content, wherever it is,” Martí told Variety earlier this year.

He added: “At the same time, there’s a huge interest from the platforms and the networks in Europe for content that feels new and fresh. We’re finding companies from France, Germany or Sweden, that are interested in content about events in Mexico or Chile.

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