“Los Internacionales,” the latest fruit of an ongoing title-by-title production alliance between ViacomCBS International Studios and The Mediapro Studio, will launch May 20 in 11.15 pm primetime on Argentine broadcast network Telefe.
One day later, Cablevision, Argentina’s No. 1 cable operator. will make all eight episodes available on its SVOD service Flow, which also produces the series, along with Miami-based Olympusat.
Set in Bogotá and Buenos Aires in 2002, the true facts thriller, mixing a to-catch-a-thief scenario and a corruption in high-places subplot, marks the third production between VCBSIS and The Mediapro Studio in the space of three years, after esports teen drama “NooBees,” now on Season 2, and Telefe primetime’s “Victoria Small,” in which series showrunner and TMS exec Daniel Burman portrays modern-day maternity with whimsical liberal irony.
Directed by Martín Hodara (“Black Snow”), Pablo Vázquez and Pablo Ambrosini (“Graduados”), the series also represents one of the biggest new plays on ViacomCBS International Studios’s slate during this week and next’s Virtual Screenings.
In all, three of the slate’s 10 or so titles are produced with The Mediapro Studio. That seems no coincidence at all. The two companies are among the biggest pacemakers on a new Spanish-language drama series scene, set upon making dramas which appeal beyond domestic markets.
That is TMS’ core business model. As the dollar value of Argentine advertising plunges, decimated by inflation and currency rates, it’s also a necessity for Viacom-owned Telefe and Argentina’s industry at large to make productions “from Argentina for the world,” as Jimena Hernández, The Mediapro Studio’s director of contents, Argentina and Chile, put in a Zoom presentation on Thursday, made by executives at all of the series’ backers.
From a sneak peek of Ep. 1, “Los Internacionales” wears its international credentials on its sleeve. It begins with Fausto Montalván, a legendary head of Bogotá-based crime org Los Internacionales, departing a Colombian penitentiary. Montalván is played by Colombia’s Juan Pablo Shuk, who broke out from 2003 with “Pasión de Gavilanes,” then started a second-career in Spain, reaching fame with “El Barco,” before featuring as Colonel Martínez in “Narcos.”
Action cuts quickly to Argentina’s Cecilia Roth, another Latin American actress with large Spanish-speaking world profile, immortalized by her role in “All About My Mother,” and an Almodóvar regular from 1982’s “Labyrinth of Passions” down to 2019’s “Pain and Glory.”
Los Internacionales was extraordinary for its geographic reach – Montalván is described early on as “an international criminal” – carrying out heists, burglaries and jewelry convention thefts from Spain, Italy and Russia to the U.S., Mexico and Japan, a teletext credit runs, right at the beginning of Ep. 1.
By 2016, over 3,000 Colombians were serving prison sentences for theft outside Colombia, said Nahuel Gallotta, author of non-fiction book “Bogotá Connection,” on which “Los Internacionales” is based, when presenting the original series project in 2018.
Shuk also channels something of Hitchcock’s Cary Grant. He’s mature but still attractive, and a burglar who respects an unbreakable criminal code, which, he tells four Bogota slum hoodlums he recruits for his next job, includes never using firearms on a job: It gets you far longer prison sentences.
Montalván’s gameplan, carried out in Ep. 1, is to relocate to Buenos Aires whose run on its banks has left rich Argentines hoarding millions in dollars at home – or checking into a hotel with a briefcase of bank notes, as in Ep. 1. That’s catnip for Los Internacionales.
Roth plays Marta Costas, an ambitious public prosector aiming to cap a career by joining its Supreme Court. And she’ll do anything to achieve that goal, marching imperiously into a men’s bathroom to tell a urinating bigwig she’ll get to the bottom of a brewing corruption scandal,
As Ep. 1 sows the seeds of future discord for Montalván – Mario, one of his gang, already challenges his authority, complaining of incompetence at Montalván’s back office organization – in a typical shading of good and bad in today’s premium fiction, while Montalván is a criminal with principles, Costas, investigating the corruption scandal, will discover Argentina’s supposedly principled judiciary could be a band of criminals.
“‘Los Internacionales’ is an exciting, absorbing thriller which joins talent of international level and recognition in a production of international quality, straddling Colombia and Argentina,” Darío Turovelzky, SVP, ViacomCBS Networks Americas, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, told a global Zoom audience from Buenos Aires on Thursday.
An “intricate” shoot covering 65 work days from September 2019 and made by more than than 200 on-set professionals who shot 300-plus scenes filmed at above 40 disparate outdoor locations, “Los Internacionales” is a “synthesis of those properties which make series international, through their content and talent,” added ViacomCBS International Studios SVP-director Federico Cuervo.
Market leaders attract partners. For Miami-based satellite and multi-platform distribution company Olympusat, a prolific producer of up to 10 movies a month, Los Internacionales offers it the chance to move into premium drama series production.
Flow, which now has over 5 million accesses, has co-produced over 20 original series, said Antonio Alvarez, Cablevisión/Flow director of programming.
These co-productions are Flow’s most-watched content, he added.