In a drive for authenticity, Chile’s Parox, producer of “Invisible Heroes,” has attached Katherina Harder to direct “Silver Bridge” (Puente de Plata), a Latin American drug trade origins saga billed by Parox and Harder as a feminist romantic melodrama.

Produced by Alvaro Cabello and Parox founders Sergio Gándara and Leonora González, “Silver Bridge” weighs in as a standout title at Sanfic Industria’s new Sanfic Lab showcase, which unspools March 24. Originally written by Enrique Videla, whose credits include Joyn series “Dignidad” and Amazon and HBO Max series “La Jauría,” “Silver Bridge” now has a bible and pilot both written as well as a teaser-trailer.

Based out of Chile and Barcelona, Harder helmed the live action short “Memorias del viento” (Guiding Sights) which played at 35 film festivals, winning best short at Chile’s Valdivia fest, plus doc-reality “4to Medio,” produced by Parox for Chilean network TVN. Her debut feature project, “Los ñiños del viento,” won an invitation to Guadalajara’s Ibero-American Co-production Meeting at Sanfic’s 2019 Santiago Lab.

As a lesbian director and the great grand-niece of Amanda Huassaf, Harder is uniquely positioned to direct a narrative that unspools against the background of the extraordinary true-life rise of a Chilean family of Lebanese descent, ruled by matriarch Amanda Huassaf, into the principal importer of cocaine into New York in the early 1960s.

Produced by Alvaro Cabello and Parox founders Sergio Gándara and Leonora González, and first unveiled at MipCancun in 2018, “Silver Bridge” retains one stock element of the narco-genre: the crime dynasty that battles to maintain control of the drug business.

It also brings two new elements to the table: the lesbian romance of its central characters, Amanda and Fatima, the latter a medical student and heir to a textile company used to export the cocaine to Cuba and beyond; and a sense of Latin melodrama in their romance and the involved jealousies, misunderstandings and rivalries of other members of the Huassaf clan.

To both these elements, Harder aims to contribute a large element of authenticity.

“Inspired by true events, ‘Silver Bridge’ involves me directly. My grandmother is the Huassaf family heir and I know their story from inside. Although I never met Amanda personally, I feel as if I had and had been there thanks to family stories,” Harder says in a director’s statement.

Many images form part of Harder’s imagination and help her to construct “an emblematic, powerful, mythologically feminine figure,” she adds, arguing that addressing the story from a feminist perspective will allow her “to construct complex female characters. As a lesbian, exploring love between women is also a real opportunity to make that more visible.“

Much of “Silver Bridge” will be based out of Los Siete Espejos, an exclusive night club that a young Amanda Huassaf ran in port city Valparaíso, northern Chile, where the family imported cocaine paste base from Bolivia. It then used chemicals of Chile’s northern desert mines to refine the coke, distributing it throughout Chile to a nascent middle class. In the series, Fatima’s export business allows the company to go international.

“Katherina’s family story is full of details of how life was for immigrants in the desert and how Valparaíso transformed into the main hub for the distribution of cocaine on a worldwide scale,” said Gándara.

“Parox is betting on developing projects which tell local stories, that are deeply grounded in national identity and with large export potential, “ he added. “Our challenge is to internationalize Chilean stories that have a universal reach.

Lazy loaded image
Silver Bridge Credit: Parox