“Fangio,” a series about the triumph and tragedy of Juan Manuel Fangio, whose five Formula One World Championship wins stood as a record for 46 years, is now in the works in Argentina.
Presented at Ventana Sur, the portrait of a legend who put racing and winning above all else, at large emotional cost, is in development at La Sagrada Familia. A new creative collective, the company has been set up by “La Jauría” and “The Unseen” director Nicolas Puenzo, film director-producer Esteban Puenzo (“Clandestine Childhood”) and two icons of Argentina’s commercials scene, Pucho Mentasti and Carlos Baccetti.
La Sagrada Familia has acquired rights from the Fangio family, with the driver’s sons, Ruben and Oscar Fangio, serving as consultants on the series.
The company has also secured a development deal with Estudio R & M, the new company of two industry heavyweights, Alejandro Roemmers, head of Argentina’s Roemmers laboratories, and movie producer Carlos Mentasti, (“Los Bañeros,” “Animal”). Setting out to become a content powerhouse in Argentina, backing ambitious series and movies of international reach, R & M will also finance 50% of “Fangio’s” production costs.
“Fangio” is being written by novelist Sergio Olgúin, author of “The Fragility of Bodies,” adapted as a successful series by Pol-ka and Turner Latin America, and writer-director Tatiana Mereñuk (“Yo soy sola”), who is also writing a new Fabula-Fremantle project “Miss Mexico” with Nicolás and Esteban Puenzo’s sister Lucía Puenzo, “La Jauría” showrunner.
Conceived as a two season series, “Fangio” is the “opportunity to portray one of the must spectacular characters of the 20th century,” according to a six-minute promotional video, which will be presented at Ventana Sur.
The video begins, tellingly, with a photo of Andrea Burnett, Fangio’s lover, kissing him after he won a race, then cuts to a shot of Fangio after a race, surrounded by an adoring crowd. The series will chart Fangio’s rise, from humble origins in provincial Argentina, the fact that he spent a full first career competing in grueling, 6,000-mile long point-to-point races in Latin America before he had the connections to be bought a Maserati and sent to Europe in 1948, at the age of 37.
From 1951-57, Fangio won the Formula One World Championship five times. This year the Economist ranked champions according to the relative importance of car quality to driver skill, rating Fangio as Formula One’s all time best driver. Equally spectacular was his accident in Monza, which ends the first season, at a time when Formula One driving was incredibly fast, drivers wore no protective equipment and tyre treads could strip in a race.
But the series will also chart Fangio’s tragedy: The death of Daniel Urrutia, his close friend and co-pilot in a race accident on a mountain road in Peru, when Fangio was driving; his refusal to marry Burnett and have a real family.
“When you’re in love with the checkered flag, you don’t have time for anything else,” Fangio’s character says in a voiceover in the video. “That’s why I raced at 300 km an hour, so that love never caught me. I never allowed love to get in the way of my destiny,” Fangio adds. Fangio will die “tormented by his emotional failures,” the video observes.
The series has a bible, production design, a first draft of two episodes, and profiles of almost all main characters.
“This is a very powerful project about a man who had an incredible life including a dramatic family saga and a world hero dramatic arc that is an emotional roller coaster,” Nicolás Puenzo told Variety.
He added: “This is his personal story and that of those around him, their enjoyment and suffering. It’s extraordinary that the series hadn’t been made before,”
The series, Puenzo added, is now ready to be pitched to potential financial partners to tie down the remaining 50% of production costs.