MADRID — Beta Film has acquired international distribution rights to “Libertad,” the newly-titled banner Movistar Plus series, which encapsulates many of the original series production ambitions of Telefonica’s pay TV/SVOD service.
According to Fran Araujo, head of content for Movistar Plus, “Beta is there for all our series from the beginning, nowadays, we’ve got a really extensive deal with them.”
Producers LaZona Productions, Spanish director Enrique Urbizu and Movistar have finalized production on “Libertad” and will begin post-production. Urbizu has previously directed “Gigantes,” another original series for Movistar Plus produced by Lazona.
In high-profile series like “Hierro,” “La Unidad” and “Antidisturbios,” women hold center stage in Movistar Plus series, and “Libertad” is no different.
Set in the 19th century, the series tracks a mother and her son following their release after spending the first seventeen years of the boy’s life in prison together. Having been granted their freedom, the two just want to live in peace. Unfortunately, they find themselves between conflicting interests of two bandit clans and the local governor, fighting over trade routes.
“Libertad” will feature a social issue focus and a humanistic narrative, characteristics shared by many Movistar Plus series.
In the era the series takes place, most people lived in rural areas with small hamlets spread all over Spain. Routes and roads where highly important for trade. Hunger, poverty and slavery were well known among the villagers, typically illiterate land-laborers serving the landlords and trying to survive. In those difficult times, groups of men gathered, seeking their freedom, and often became called bandits.
Contradicting the myth of Robin Hood’s banditry, the series will explain how these not so merry men were not actually fighting against injustice, they were more typically moved by their own interests and survival. That is the world facing the series’ characters, years after the French Revolution of 1789, and more importantly Napolean’s empire and the change they brought to Western Europe over the nineteen century.
Urbizu explained, “I believe ‘Freedom!’ was the last thing Spanish people shouted before the French occupation started.”
Multiple scenes on horseback, beautiful landscapes and social poverty provide baselines for this story.
As Araujo told Variety, “There was no other way to do it, and Enrique knew that from the beginning.”
Lazona lead producer Santiago Salazar-Simpson added, “From the first script we knew this was a challenge. That said, it encourages us even more to make this project real”.
Movistar Plus’ original production line was headlined by “La Peste” (“The Plague”), a 16th century story of religion, corruption and politics set in Seville, and now they will bet on “Libertad,” another big budget non-studio production with more than 80% of its scenes shot at real locations across Spain.
With an experienced production team, shooting began in the fall, with the cast having to work through tough conditions, riding horses in remote locations and adhering to a tight schedule.
“Libertad” takes place in the wild, and as Urbizu said, “The landscape plays such a key role, we’ve been shooting in the mountains for over four months.”