‘Narcos’ José Padilha Attached for Globoplay Marielle Franco Series

Jose Padiha

Brazil’s José Padilha, director of “Narcos” and writer-director-producer of the “Elite Squad” feature film diptych, has been signed by Globo Studios to write, direct and produce a Globoplay original series about Marielle Franco, the Brazilian black, gay female human rights activist assassinated in a still-unresolved murder.

The series, a high-profile addition to Latin America’s burgeoning premium content offer, marks a stand-out addition to Globoplay’s lineup, one of Latin America’s fastest-growing SVOD original production powerhouses. Launched in 2015, Globo’s freemium SVOD service in Brazil which had over 22 million unique visitors a month by the beginning of the year, aims to release 20 original productions in 2020.

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) will negotiate all international distribution agreements. Padilha indicated that it is looking for an “international partnership to exhibit the series worldwide. The idea is to tell [Franco’s] incredible life story to the greatest number of people, inside and outside the country.”

Created by Antonia Pellegrino, lead writer on “Bruna Surfistinha,” a true-facts based teen call-girl drama and box office hit singled out by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as the kind of film that should never receive government funding, the Marielle Franco series will be “fictional in the same way that ‘Elite Squad’ 1 and 2 were, but with a story based on real events and on everything that it represents,” Padilha said.

“We will be telling the important story, of the life and, unfortunately, death of Marielle Franco,” he added, so addressing, as in “Elite Squad,” “the ongoing problems of urban violence, police corruption and the militias and their influence on politics.”

Born in the Rio de Janeiro Complexo de Maré favela and a mother in adolescence, Franco managed, by huge efforts, to take a master’s in public administration, was elected a Rio de Janeiro city councillor and president of the Women’s Defense Commission. She was soon singled out as an iconic voice in the struggle for minorities’ human rights and battle against LGBT phobia, and a discordant presence for Brazil’s hard-right. She was brutally murdered on March 14 2018 in a crime that raised an international outcry.

To be shot largely on location in Rio de Janeiro, the series’ Season 1 details Franco’s life building up to her murder.  Season 2 focuses on the investigation into her death and asks who killed Franco and who ordered her murder.

Padilha and Pellegrino will write the first and final episodes of the series. Its writers room will be headed by George Moura, who has already penned notable hit series for Globo such as 2019 women’s Western “Land of the Strong,” and upcoming Globally original “Where My Heart Is,” turning on a woman medic come crack addict, which was selected for February’s Berlinale Market Screenings.

“Fiction, even when based on real life events, always allows us to have some freedom of manoeuver to dig deeper into the subjective motivations that drive the characters,” Moura said. “It is as if in a documentary or report, reality were always the ultimate goal. On the other hand, in fiction, dreams and desires may carry greater weight.”

“Marielle always went beyond the norm in everything she did, even in the way she died, said Pellegrino, adding that for Rio de Janeiro, “a city marked by violent crimes, Franco’s murder is the only case powerful enough to bring the putrefying sludge of the city to the surface.”

The project marks the first work of director José Padilha with Globo Studios. “Very few filmmakers have the capacity to tell a story of this nature with equal skill and competence to national and international audiences,” Erick Brêtas, Globo director of digital products & services, said of Padilha.