Adding to the momentum of Chile’s energetic push into upscale TV production, the Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) is adding a TV strand, Sanfic Series.
Focusing on drama series and part of the Sanfic Industry forum – after Ventana Sur now one of the biggest of any festival in South America – the section will bow at this August’s festival with the South American premiere of the first two episodes of “Invisible Heroes,” a MipTV and Conecta Fiction hit and flagship title in Chile’s drive into international co-production.
A YLE Original Series produced by Finland’s Kahio Republic and Chile’s Parox, one of Chile’s most established TV production houses, and backed by Finland’s YLE and Chile’s Chilevision, “Invisible Heroes” is a prime example of a series with a highly specific setting, the eve and mostly aftermath of Augusto Pinochet’s bloody 1973 coup in Chile, rendered of international appeal by the universality of its character’s emotions.
As Pinochet’s troops begin to imprison, torture and murder dissidents, the series records how Finnish diplomat Tapani Brotherus first offers sanctuary at his chalet for a few members of Allende’s party and government, whom he had invited to a dinner out of a sense of human decency.
The same sentiment will drive him in the end to covertly help secure asylum in Europe for more than 2,000 Chilean citizens whose lives are under threat.
World premiering at MipTV, “Invisible Heroes” was acquired for international distribution by Eccho Rights in news announced just before market.
Backed by Chile’s Consejo Nacional de Television (CNTV) and Corfo, and from Scandinavia, the Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Business Finland and Nordivision and public broadcasters of Sweden (SVT), Norway (NRK), Denmark (DR) and Iceland (RUV), the series boasts shockingly effective scenes of VFX, such as a recreation of the crowds and hubbub of Chile’s National Stadium, turned by Pinochet into his main detention center, which Brotherus briefly discovers before being hurried away.
The key to the series’ success, however, was most probably its focus on character, “To see what was the real effect [of the coup] on Chilean and foreign people and their lives,” Mika Kurvinen, who directed with Chile’s Alicia Scherson, told Variety during MipTV.
“We wanted to create those feelings, [making them] as real as possible” so that audiences wouldn’t even notice the period production design,” he added.
The screening will be followed with a Q & A with the series’ screenwriters, Finland’s Tarja Kylma and Chile’s Manuela Infante (Chile). Further activities will explore the fast-burgeoning crossover between cinema and television in Latin America, said Gabriela Sandoval, co-director of Sanfic and head of its industry program.
“It’s highly important as a festival and industry space to be the first in Chile to have programming and activities linked to cinema and TV series,” Sandoval told Variety.
“How cinema and TV are consumed has changed. The quality and consecration of drama series has conquered a broad public blurring in some ways the limits of the seven arts,” she added, noting that the 2019 Sanfic will dip the toe in the water, before a fuller TV industry program next year.
Sanfic Series comes as the number of Chilean high-end series builds, seen in “Invisible Heroes”; “Mary & Mike,” from Invercine & Wood, produced with Turner Latin America, bowed at Natpe last year; the upcoming “La Jauría”; a Fabula-Fremantle co-production, and soccer corruption scandal thriller “El Presidente,” made by Fabula and Gaumont (“Narcos”) for Amazon; and “Inés of My Soul,” produced by Spain’s RTVE, Chile’s broadcast network Chilevisión, Spain’s Lagardère-owned Boomerang TV and with Amazon Prime Video securing exclusive streaming rights in the U.S., Spain and Latin America.
Fabula has signed a multi-year development-production-distribution deal with Fremantle; Mediapro Chile unveiled its first original series project, “The Cliff,” at June’s Conecta Fiction in Pamplona.
Affirming that its biggest asset was its talent and capacity to create stories, Mega’s Juan Ignacio Vicente affirmed that Chile’s biggest broadcast network by market share was at Conecta Fiction not only to acquire programs but leverage its talent and production capacity to look for foreign producers in order to produce on an international scale.
“The question now is how do we channel the energy, the drive for quality of our cinema into the creation of scripted content for a whole range of platforms, free-to-air, traditional pay TV and the streamers,” said Matías Almocaín, at Fabula.
For the past 14 editions, Sanfic has been a promotion platform for Chile’s cinema. Coming two months before Mipcom, it looks likely to build fast as a window onto its energized drama series scene, already the subject of a tribute at Conecta Fiction.