PAMPLONA, Spain — A project pitched three years ago at the very first Conecta Fiction in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela, “Ines of My Soul” was back at the international co-pro and networking summit, this year in Pamplona, where it was held up as one of the still-young event’s most significant success stories.
The stage was crowded, including speakers Consuelo Silva, executive producer at Chilevisión; RTVE director of content Fernando López Puig; Jorge Redondo, executive producer at Boomerang TV; Ricardo Carbonero, head of acquisitions for Amazon Prime Video in Spain; screenwriter Paco Mateo and co-directors Alejandro Bazzano and Nicolas Acuña.
The miniseries, a made-for-TV adaptation of Isabel Allende’s novel of the same name, is being co-produced by broadcasters RTVE in Spain and Chilevisión in Chile as well as Madrid-based production company Boomerang TV. Amazon Prime Video has secured exclusive streaming rights in the U.S., Spain and Latin America.
Based on one of Spain and Latin America’s most significant historical female figures, Inés Suárez, the series is a globe-trotting romantic drama full of action and adventure which takes place during the Spanish conquest of South America. Suárez, the mistress of conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, levied her relationship with the man to secure a place among his crew as a domestic servant, a highly controversial inclusion at the time, which sailed out of Extremadura in 1539 and became a pivotal player in the conquest and settlement of Chile.
Suárez proved herself the most valuable member of the crew as a caretaker, healer, diviner in the perilous Atacama Desert and even on one occasion a pseudo-bodyguard for Valdivia when an rival made an attempt on his life. She participated in the founding and early defence of Chile’s capital city Santiago and was one of few conquistadors to achieve the wealth and status so many were promised. To this day she still stands out as an anti-authority hero in Chile.
“When we talk about the conquistadors, we always talk about the men who arrived in South America and never the women. With ‘Inés’ that will finally be addressed,” explained Silva.
“Getting into Inés’s skin was difficult, far more difficult than writing battles between the conquistadors and the Mapuche,” said screenwriter Paco Mateo. “But people will find an intimate story in ‘Inés.’ Women and men will see themselves reflected in her character.”
Bazzano, who has previously worked on major Spanish series such as “Money Heist” (“Casa de papel”), “Mar de plástico” (“Plastic Sea”) and “Presunto Culpable” will co-direct along with Acuña, who himself had a jam-packed week having been involved in three series projects which pitched in Pamplona as well.
“This story happened many years ago, but for me it’s a contemporary story. A story of a woman who was the protagonist of a heroic feat,” said Acuña.
“I think that the secret to the series is to portray honestly the epic of the Spanish conquest and the reality of the characters involved,” said Bazzano. “They are so well depicted in the novel and so well written in the script, hopefully we can film them just as well.”
For Boomerang, “Inés of my Soul” represents an opportunity in an uncertain time to produce content that stands out from the more common fair frequently found on Spanish and Latin American TV, and compete with what the big platforms are making in-house.
“We were at the first Conecta Fiction in 2017, and we knew that these new players coming into our industry would mean we had to think about more ambitious projects and forget our comfort zone where we had stayed for quite some time in Spain,” López said.
Boomerang’s Jorge Redondo remembered the series’ pitch that first year as well: “We saw the potential of this story as a different way of seeing the conquest of Chile. We understood from the beginning its potential and with Isabel Allende’s full support we had confirmation we were on the right track.”
For Amazon, the series has a profile in line with its model of quality programming over quantity of programming.
“We are just getting started in Spain and a project like ‘Inés’ is a great way to do that. All my colleagues have stressed how ‘Ines’ is just the kind of ambitious project we want at Amazon,” said Carbonero. “Having a production that can be sold in both Spain and Latin America is a win right from the start. We are confident that the teams on both sides of the ocean will give this story credibility from multiple angles.”
The series will start shooting on Sept. 2 in Chile, Spain and Peru. The directors promised visuals which will do justice to the epic narrative. Bazzano even boasted that he would pack his equipment onto the back of a burro if needed to get his shot.