“Now, we’re producing over 100 projects, we’ve calculated we’ll be working on nearly 130 projects next year to supply both our platform networks,” The Walt Disney Company LatAm’s Leonardo Aranguibel commented at a Ventana Sur panel on Tuesday.
How can Disney try to ensure quality at such a massive production levels? “We look for the best talents, not only in front of the cameras but also behind,” Aranguibel answered.
Most streaming platform execs would say the same.
So showcases like Ventana Sur’s SoloSeries are likely to flower in the next few years. In their first collaboration at SoloSeries, this year Netflix and Ventana Sur are offering AR$500,000 ($5,000) to the winner among five drama series from upcoming Argentine women creators. In addition, all projects will receive advice on their work from Carolina Leconte, director of original series for Latin America at Netflix.
“To tell authentic, unique stories, it’s necessary to create spaces for new voices and support their development,” said Leconte. “Creating this initiative, we want to contribute to help these creators along a path that they’re already walking, so that they can create great stories and contribute with their talent to the local creative community.”
Spanish producer ESPostlight, which is partnered by Legendary Global, and Flixxo, a file-swapping platform, will also host project pitches, ESPotlight offering a first prize of €15,000 ($16,950), a second prize of €5,000 ($5,650) and a third prize of project development mentoring and advice on sales strategy.
“We’ve had the luck of receiving projects of great quality and variety. The final selection is a proof. Undoubtedly it’s going to be difficult to select the three winners,” said ESPotlight partner and producer Anxo Rodríguez.
If the projects at the Netflix and ESPotlight showcases have one thing in common, it’s that their creators, almost without exception, are not very well known, though many on the cusp of recognition. They’re an exciting proposition.
Following a breakdown of these sections’ projects, to be pitched today at Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur.
Netflix Incentive for Argentine Women Creators
“Ayelen and the Forest Shadow,” (“Ayelen y el camino de la sombra,” Luz Rapoport, Celeste Lambert, Sofía Sauval)
A suspense-laced adventure fantasy mixing nature, fantasy and building horror, targeting 10-12 pre-teens. Ayelén, 11, from Patagonia, has to deal with a visit from a city cousin just as she’s aiming to complete a ritual turning her into a forest spirit. Written by Rapoport, Lambert (who has credits with both Netflix and Disney Plus) and Sauval. To be shot in the stunning Cuncuna Forest Bariloche, northern Patagonia, a series connecting its young audience with nature.
“Fed Up, In A Far Away Defense,” (“Hartas, En Lejísima Defensa,” Julia Zarate y Nara Carreira, Dalmira Films, Argentina)
Crushed by their daily life, in a day of fury, female and LGTBIQ+ characters carry out plans for radical justice, or bids for freedom or revenge, fed up of patriarchal abuse, ecological catastrophe, trafficking, corruption and submission, among many other things. Six extreme stand-alone tales featuring vengeful Valkyries, told in different genres, from horror to melodrama, crime procedural, comedy, dystopian fantasy and rockumentary. “A cathartic feminist series in a black-humored key,” says co-writer Zarate. Produced by the Córdoba-based Dalmira Tobal. It sounds a hoot.
“The Girls of the Fog,” (“Las Chicas de la Niebla,” )
“Their battle field was a hospital,” the log line runs of this four-part miniseries, about five young Argentine Air Force nurses tending the wounded in the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict. “The violence they suffer day to day will turn them into totally different women who, with the passage of time, will discover consequences, fears, insecurities and a forced silence,” the synopsis runs. Based on true events, written by Milagros Tucci Layus and Jorge Luján Corsi (“Jardín de Yeso.”)
“My Queen,” (“Mi Reina,” Marlene Grinberg
A Buenos Aires Film Commission Incubator winner, “My Queen” is described by producers Cruz del Sur Cine and Far Away Cine as a dramatic comedy with elements of black humor about “mothers, children, sex and judaism.” After the loss of her husband, Ruth seeks emancipation from her religious, social and cultural mandates via a relationship with a young foreign masseur, which make her two adult daughters question their places as women. From writer-director Marlene Grinberg, winner of two awards for “The Mermaid of Monterrey” at last month’s Sanfic-Mórbido Lab. Federico Ricaldoni (“Limbo”) and Mario E. Levit produce.
“Sugar, Handicapped, Reckless, Not That Sweet,” (“Sugar, Inválida, Imprudente, No Tan Dulce,” Lucrecia Gómez Boschetti, Ana De Pascuale, Nah Contenidos)
Lara, a wheelchair user, becomes a Sugar Baby in order to leave Córdoba for Buenos Aires in a series that explores prejudices about discapacity, sexuality and urbanism. Based on a true story.
ESPotlight Prize Finalists:
“Acapulco,” (Luciana Guadalupe Garraza, Ronin Films Argentina)
Aimed at the 18-plus crowd, a series of stand-alone episodes set down the years in a town in the middle of nowhere, whose hard right and traditions generate evil, embodied via different horror sub-genres. The series describes social horror “through the tools of genre, allowing us to capture the horrors of our own everyday life,” says director Garraza. Produced by Ana Valentina Lellín, director of the Festival Terror Córdoba.
“Diamond Street,” (José Ignacio Navarro, Lunes)
An absurdist 2D animation soap opera for YAs charting the trails and tribulation of extravagant billionaires in an exclusive neighborhood. From Navarro, a writer-director partner at Chile’s Lunes Animation Studio, which was behind 2018 Annecy hits “Waldo’s Dream” and “Homeless,” the latter made with the Larraín brothers’ Fabula. Ximena Araya, a line producer on another hit, “Petit,” produces.
“The Eagle Heist,” (“El Robo del Aguila,” Rodolfo Santullo, Diego Fernández Pujol, Uruguay)
Billed as “Ocean’s Eleven” meets “Parasite,” a high-tech Spanish team faces off with an Argentine family firm and local Uruguayan lowlife to steal the 6 ft. 7 inch eagle and swastika crest of Admiral Graf Spee, languishing in a naval warehouse. A comedic heist thriller written by director-graphic novelist Santullo and producer Fernández Pujol, co-scribes of “The Broken Glass Theory.”
“Ears,” (“Orejas,” Mauricio Montes Mejía, Colombia)
Psychotherapist Clara Pombo, 42, ends a relationship, moving into a new flat in the hope of healing where Paco eavesdrops on her sessions and conversations. An ever complicating half-hour sitcom balancing humor and drama and turning on the everyday madness of people, says writer-director Montes.
“Families,” (Hector Castillo Cordova, Diego Fierro-Lablée)
Written by Castillo Córdova and directed and produced by Fierro-Lablee, the big winner at this month’s Sanfic Series Lab, scooping four of the 10 prizes on offer, including invitations from Series Mania and Spain’s Conecta Fiction, plus plaudit’s from Mexico’s Cinema 226 and Colombia’s Weplot. A dark comedy thriller with an avant-garde twist that casts a cynical glance behind the curtain of influencer culture.
“The Lost Ones,” (“Perdidos,” Mariana Thorne, Jotagá Crema, Brazil)
Workshopped at the TorinoFilmLab TV Next 2021, written and to be directed by Thorne and Crema, high-school archetypes –the jock, bully, goth, geek and girl who denies her psychic powers – battle it out in a deep forest with the ghosts of a school’s accident back in 1994.
“Memories of the Future,” (“Memorias do Futuro,” Roberta Miller)
A five-part doc series on the relationship dynamics between Amazon indigenous people, riverside people and scientists, as together they research how Amazon forest people’s knowledge has inspired fundamental innovations for the future of the human race. From Brazilian TV writer-director Roberta Miller.
“MDQueen,” (Hernan Belón, Tamara Viñes, Argentina)
Famed for Venice Critics Week Player “In the Open,” an understated, rural-set portrait of a young mother’s existential crisis, and “Blood in the Mouth,’ a noirish boxing melodrama, Belón here teams with Viñes, co-scribe of smash hit “Gilda.” The series turns on Antonella, an aspiring freestyle rapper building up for the most important freestyle battle in the country. A title to track.
“Rio Tercero,” (Martín Mauregui
To be directed by Pablo Trapero co-scribe Mauregui (“Lion’s Den”) and produced by Alejandro Israel at Ajimolido Films, “Rio Tercero” also scored at this month’s Sanfic Series Lab, nabbing one of the event’s major honors: Selection by Filmarket Hub, a leading Spanish platform for film and TV projects. A true-event inspired conspiracy thriller, it has Ana and Gaviglio launching an investigation into the truth behind the 1995 Rio Tercero chemical/weapons plant explosion.
“Saturia’s Race,” (Vladimir Pérez, Colombia)
A drama-thriller bio of Saturia Rubiano, a Cali bike-shop owner behind the first bike race in Colombia, despite civil conflict, machismo and the opposition of the extreme right. The competition would soon become the Vuelta a Colombia, but Rubiano’s role in the event has been overshadowed… until now. Pérez, a two-time India Catalina Award winner and Rubiano devotee, writes with Andrés Borda, who is currently penning a docu-series for Netflix. Targeting sports fans, YAs and women, an original true-life story of a woman before her time.
“Seven Days,” (“Siete Días,” César Caro, Costa Rica)
Fantasy-laced drama. Three cousins’ clairvoyant grandmother died at the exact time and date she predicted. She leaves them a letter announcing that one will die exactly one week later. As the clock ticks, one day per episode, the three pursue variously money, sex and a sense of family. From the Costa Rica-based Chilean César Caro.