×

Chilean Crime Drama ‘The Frontier’ to Explore Centuries-Old Social Conflict

Following up hit Chilean Netflix series “Bala Loca,” David Miranda Hardy, head of content development at Santiago-based Filmo Estudios, is developing a new crime thriller set against the backdrop of the ongoing dispute between the Mapuche indigenous people and the Chilean state.

“En la Frontera” (“The Frontier”) – one of the 10 finalist projects taking part in Pitch Copro Series at the Conecta Fiction TV co-production event in Pamplona, Spain, this year – grew out of a concept by novelist and screenwriter Simón Soto and “Bala Loca” scribe Pablo Toro, who pitched the idea of a crime thriller set at the center of the Mapuche conflict, said Hardy.

“We immediately clicked and started developing this story about a fascinating struggle that connects us with the whole continent and its history: From Canada and the U.S. to Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, we all share these cultural and territorial disputes in our DNA as Americans.”

The series follows Detective Manuela Valencia as she investigates a brutal murder in southern Chile amid increasing tensions between Mapuche communities and state authorities. Revealing widespread corruption, the case begins to challenge Valencia’s belief in the rule of law.

Hardy has found inspiration in popular genres such as Nordic noir, with its focus on character-based, small-town police mysteries, “and the geopolitical framework of series like ‘Fauda’ that can expand the genre into social contemporary issues,” he adds.

Hardy, who also serves as a faculty member in the Film and Media Culture Department at Middlebury College in Vermont, says he and his team are “interested in creating intense emotional connections with characters that face the more difficult moral dilemmas of our times. We love drama and mystery that is circumscribed in contemporary social malaise. In particular, the growing distrust towards liberal democratic institutions that has only gotten worse in the years after ‘Bala Loca.’

“We don’t have a specific political agenda, but believe in contributing a complex gaze into social conflicts, pointing the light to the ways they manifest in our daily lives. And we want to attract as many people as possible to those conversations by creating highly compelling, entertaining stories that can grip the audience from the start.”

To that end, the writers are telling a fictionalized story based on extensive research of the actual Mapuche conflict and “honestly attempting to represent the real dynamics in the region and its true complexity that many times is simplistically overlooked in the media,” Hardy notes. “We are also aware of the enormous difficulties that depicting a centuries-long dispute involve.”

The new series is likely to benefit from the success of “Bala Loca.” While originally conceived as a local show, “Bala Loca” opened doors around the world following its international distribution via Netflix and particularly after its nominations for the Peabody and Platino awards, Hardy notes.

“We are convinced there is a space for gripping stories that bring highly specific yet lesser-known worlds to the attention of international audiences,” he adds. “Chile has a booming media industry with top professionals, magnificent locations and fascinating stories that we hope will capture eyes all around the globe. ‘En la Frontera’ is aiming at that target from the inception, using the conventions of genre to make audiences feel like they’re in a familiar place while opening unknown worlds to them.”

In achieving a high-end aesthetic, the production will extensively use a one-camera setup normally associated with film and high-quality drama series and also emphasize music and sound design. “Social realities are gritty enough, so we like to portray them with as high production values as possible,” says Hardy, who will direct along with Gabriel Díaz (“Bala Loca”).

Produced by Marcos de Aguirre, the series boasts a strong cast that includes “Bala Loca” stars Manuela Oyarzún and Alejandro Goic. “They are among the best performers out there, and we have developed a working relationship, a sense of trust,” Hardy notes. Luis Gnecco (“Neruda”), Gaston Salgado and Daniel Candia (who likewise appeared in “Bala Loca”) are also set to star.

The project’s selection for the Conecta Fiction TV co-production event is certain to boost its international prospects.

“Conecta Fiction, in particular, has a very interesting niche in creating bonds between Europe and Latin America that are not necessarily mediated by the U.S.,” says Hardy.

“Latin America-Europe collaborations have been successful for film and Chile in particular has seen a film boom with many European co-productions. Conecta is doing a tremendous effort at adapting that model to drama series.”

CREDIT: David Miranda Hardy

More TV

  • Picture shows: MAKING OF - Underwater

    Netflix Orders 'Oceans' Natural History Series From 'Blue Planet II' Creator

    Netflix has ordered a multi-part natural history series on the world’s oceans from Freeborne Media, the production outfit of acclaimed natural-history producer James Honeyborne, who created “Blue Planet II.” Each of the series’ episodes will focus on a different ocean, “combining the disciplines of oceanography, geography and earth sciences to experience these characteristics in new [...]

  • 13 REASONS WHY

    Netflix Revises Controversial '13 Reasons Why' Suicide Scene

    Netflix has edited the controversial suicide scene from “Thirteen Reasons Why” two years after the show originally premiered. “We’ve heard from many young people that ’13 Reasons Why’ encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help—often for the first time,” Netflix said in a statement Monday. “As we [...]

  • Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and

    Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and Heroic' 'Years and Years' Character

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of “Years and Years.” Russell T. Davies’ limited series “Years and Years” began with a birth, but it did not wait until the finale to book-end the story with a death. In the fourth episode of the multi-year spanning family drama, [...]

  • Hugh GRant photographed by Shayan Asgharnia

    Listen: Hugh Grant on Why He Would Kill Social Media if He Could

    Hugh Grant has been very active in U.K. press reform initiatives, but he knows the problem is even bigger than the media moguls who control the world’s major news outlets. That’s why Hacked Off, the campaign he’s involved with, is also expanding its scope to include the impact of online propaganda. “It’s particularly terrifying, the [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    TV Review: 'Veronica Mars' Season 4

    “Veronica Mars” was a slap to the face of high school dramas when it premiered on UPN in 2004. Creator Rob Thomas took the well-worn “who killed the pretty teenager?” whodunnit and hard-boiled it, following a traumatized girl desperately trying to harden herself to the world’s harsh realities as she tried to solve the case. [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow

    Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow to Launch New Era at 'CBS Evening News'

    Though Norah O’Donnell had her first turn as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Monday night, she didn’t rely on any attention-grabbing tricks to carry the day. There was no flashy drawing board, no rattling off of unsettling, urgent headlines and no wrap-up of the day with a mawkish end segment calling up some element of [...]

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content