Buena Vista Original Productions is re-teaming with Argentina’s Pampa Films (“Chinese Takeaway”) on “Mariposas,” a new BVOP original series set in 1950s Dominican Republic, under Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship, arguably the most bloody and extreme of any in recent Latin American history.
The true events-inspired 13-episode fiction series, which has just initiated production, reunites Buena Vista Original Productions and Pampa, who collaborated on “Monzón,” a portrait of Argentine boxing legend Carlos Monzón, which Turner Latin America’s Space opened on June 17 to record ratings in Argentina. It went on to win best series at November’s Produ Awards in Mip Cancun.
Rather than straight womb-to-tomb bio, “Monzón” focused on the boxer’s arrest and trial, accused of murdering wife Alicia Muniz, working back and forth in time to reveal his near Shakespearian tragic flaw, his uncontrollable violence, which explains his brilliance as a boxer and also Muñiz’s murder.
Equally, “Mariposas” mixes true life crime and biography, juggling different periods in the build up to one of Trujillo’s most ghastly murders, and another act of femicide. Trujillo slaughtered thousands of Haitians in 1937. This assassination, however, on Nov. 25, 1960, proved so notorious as to inflame international opinion, and the disgust of the men, former supporters, who finally gunned him down in 1961.
“Mariposas” relates the growing friendship between two women, a young Spanish immigrant in Santo Domingo, Arantxa Garmendia, and Minerva Mirabal, a Dominican political activist in the 1950s whose opposition to Trujillo’s dictatorship lead her and her two sisters, known at the Mariposas (Butterflies), to be incarcerated by Trujillo’s regime. An international outcry sparked their release and conversion into symbols of resistance against Trujillo.
Filming on different locations in the Dominican Republic and Spain and jumping in chronology from the dawn of Trujillo’s dictatorship in 1931 to 1999, the series will take in the brutal assassination of Mirabal and two of her sisters by Trujillo henchmen on Nov. 25 1960.
“‘Butterflies’ is a passionate epic biography in which the color of the Caribbean mixes with crime and politics, portraying with rigor the life of a family of Spanish exiles on an island dominated by the regime of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, alias ‘El Chivo,’” Buena Vista Original Productions has announced in a press statement.
In 1999, the United Nations named Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The Mariposas’ murder inspired the fictionalized novel “In the Time of Butterflies,” which was adapted as a 2001 film of the same title, starring Salma Hayek as Minerva Mirabal.
The series is of a piece with “Femicidios,” one of the most ambitious drama series project ever in Latin America, portraying episodic, true-life stories of infamous cases of fatal gender violence in four countries in Latin America, connected throughout the whole seasons with a powerful drama line. Based on an original idea by Argentina’s Pol-ka, Buena Vista Original Productions will produce a first season of 10 episodes in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, creating a total of 40 episodes. It has engaged as production houses Pol-ka for Argentina, BTF in Mexico, Vista Productions in Colombia and Cinefilm in Brazil.