Argentina’s “Mother Dough,” a four-part doc series portraying how women have fed humanity through their work at home and their doughs, has won the first Iberseries Pitch, ending first year activities at this year’s Iberseries, an event which is setting out to become the foremost Spanish-language drama series festival in the world.
“‘Mother Dough’ is innovative and, at the same time. universal in its treatment, channelling the principal issues of the 21st century in a proposition that is distinctive, with multiple values in its visuals and content, a nexus connecting with our emotions,” said a jury made up of Ana Celia Urquidi, general manager, production at Mexico’s Hemisphere Media Group, Arantxa Écija, Mediaset España fiction director, and Alex Medeiros, director of development at Globo Channels, Brazil.
The winner will walk away with a €3,000 ($3,300) cash prize, manna from heaven for any Argentine producer at this time.
The Pitch also showcased two high-profile drama series projects from Spain – “Nada” and “Black Gold” – as well as animation skein “Trip to Antarctic” and Colombian life-on-the-margins anthology “Cartegenes.”
Held online, and featuring select highlights from what was once imagined to be an industry agenda taking place this week in Granada, Spain, Iberseries proved notable for its high-powered backing. On May 19, Movistar Plus presented “La Unidad,” a just-released anti-terrorist squad action thriller which had set an all-time first weekend viewership record for the Telefonica pay TV/SVOD service.
At a May 28 trans-Atlantic Zoom panel, executives from Miami’s ViacomCBS International Studios, Spain’s Movistar Plus and RTVE and Colombia’s Caracol TV debated a post-COVID future, setting out sometimes quite candidly their priorities as well as likely post-pandemia change.
Iberseries also served to underscore the ever-rising but logical quality of Spanish-language drama series as the sector is increasingly viewed as a priority sector for governments and a potentially sustainable future for film-TV producers. For independent producers, getting a series made is still, however, no slam dunk. Following, a drill down on Iberseries Pitch winner “Mother Dough,” announced Friday, and the other four finalists, all presented on Thursday.
Punching all the right buttons – it’s feminist, ethno and gastronomic – “Mother Dough” already has broad producer backing – by lead Argentine producer Brava Cine; Jaque Content, the dynamic Argentina-Mexico production house (“The Cleaning Lady”); and respected Alfredo Federico at Italy’s 39 Films. The Iberseries boosts the credentials of a project which already scooped the CTT EXP & Rentals Award for series in development from Los Cabos Festival’s Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund last November. The four half-hour episodes will mix cinematography, experts’ opinions, photos and archive footage, writer-director Mercedes Córdova said during her Iberseries presentation. Multi-media – a series, TV special, feature, podcast, book, web-platform – added producer Valeria Forster at Brava Cine, the title’s narrator will change from country to county of release. Particularly arresting is the series’ revisionist history. Ep. 1, for example, will show how women gatherers’ development of agriculture allowed nomads to settle, opening the door to patriarchy, said Cordóva.
The first drama series from Aquí y Alli Films, one of Spain’s most successful young production houses (Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Aqui y Allá,” 2014 San Sebastian Golden Shell winner “Magical Girl,” Variety favorite “Life and Nothing More”), “Nada” has Jorge Dorado (“The Department of Time,” “The Head”) on board to direct a story which wraps deep relationship issues – the damage a parent often wreaks on a child – in Patagonia Noir. Creator-writer Nicolás Britos – again from Argentina, no confidence as its deep well of writing talent is increasingly tapped throughout the Spanish-speaking world – used the presentation to double down on what called the “fifth wall,” the mobile phone Nada uses a second memory after, 30 years before, aged eight, she felt through the ice of frozen lake, suffering permanent brain damage. When her father, a egomaniacal novelist, disappears, Nada return to her birthplace in Patagonia to find her father and also, as all children must do, finally confronts her own life trauma.
Brought to its knees by a 1936-39 Civil War, 1940s’ Spain was effectively up for sale, its tungsten, used to strength Nazi German munitions, creating the equivalent of a California Gold Rush in 1944 in North-West Galicia and Northern Portugal. For a time, said series creator Paula Cons, some villages had 60 bars, four cinema theaters and multiple brothels. “Black Gold” has classic Western beats, such as (echoing William Wyler’s “The Westerner”) its protagonist, a drifter, Nuno, a former Portuguese miner, determined to run the racketeering business, and replace its kingpin who takes him under his wing in a lawless land of easy money. What sets it apart is its “unique universe”, she added. Set up at Galicia’s Agallas Films, where Cons’ works as head of development, “Black Gold” was selected for last November’s Content London.
‘Trip to the Antarctic’
A short format 2D animation series, “Trip to the Antarctic” turns on the extraordinary Arctic Tern, a bird with the longest migration journey of any in the world, flying anywhere up to 57,000 miles a year from the Arctic or Northern Europe to a second summer in the Antarctic and back. Yet chicks, such as Timmia, the heroine of “Trip,” fit in the palm of a hand, said series creator Eva Pérez. They are also highly animation-friendly. Illustrations which accompany the series online suggest an engagingly dainty 2D style. In “Trip,” thanks to quaking slow-coach twin brother Ungal, Timmia gets lost on her first trip South. The series’ unspools against a background of climate change. But it is at heart an adventure series, Pérez said.
Set in Cartagena de las Indias, the six-part comedy-drama “Cartagenes’” turns on a half dozen characters from its marginalized quarters, each with their own epiode. One dreams of leaving, stowing away on a boat, but he can’t swim; another dreams of finding her father; yet another of becoming a doctor, bur he has to care for his father instead. Most face dashed dreams, seemingly insurmountable circumstances. “All these stories are full of humor, tragedy, magic,” series director Felipe Solarte during Iberseries Pitch. “They breath the chaotic, vibrant soul of the Caribbean.”
Pablo Sandoval contributed to this article.