Movistar initiated production in Chile on Jan. 4 on its most ambitious original series to date – about seminal Chilean band Los Prisioneros which hit its heights under one of the bloodiest dictatorships in modern Latin American history, giving voice to unheard youth across the region.
Shown by Movistar exec Joanna Lombardi and produced by Movistar and Parox – the Chilean TV production house behind 2019 MipTV hit “Invisible Heroes,” produced with Finland’s YLE – “Los Prisioneros” will hit Latin American pay TV service Movistar TV and OTT platform Movistar Play during the second semester of 2021.
The punk band saga examines the life of its three members during key moments of their careers. As they become an iconic band whose lyrics defined the sentiments of a Latin American generation, and still today resonate with audiences as the political landscape of today’s uncertain present echoes the era of Los Prisioneros.
Los Prisioneros band members – main lyricist, voice and bass guitarist Jorge Gonzalez, guitarist Claudio Narea and drummer Miguel Tapia will be played by Chilean stars Aron Hernández (“The List”), Andrew Bargsted (“Bad Influence”) and Diego Madrigal (“Tracking”).
Part of a drive by Movistar to build a pan-Latin America talent base, draw often on successful filmmakers from across the region, the eight-part series, which comes in from a new angle at tumultuous years of Chilean history. is directed by Colombia’s Carlos Moreno (“Dog Eat Dog”), Peru’s Salvador del Solar (“Magallanes”),
A special collaboration with Chile’s Dominga Sotomayor, the first woman cineaste to win the best director award at the Locarno Festival, with 2018’s “Too Late to Die Young,” ensures that special attention is paid to the female side of Los Prisoneros, with Las Cleopatras, precursors of #MeToo Las Tesis (“A Rapist in Your Path”), appearing in the show.
Variety talked with Lombardi, Moreno and Del Solar as they were about to begin production:
The musical biopic often enrolls narrative structures that over time have become a somewhat hackneyed formula charting the rise and fall of great artists. That, these days, loses a lot of freshness. How have you approached this challenged in an eight episode drama series format?
Moreno: The series essentially focuses on Los Prisioneros at their peak, when their first album is published; the series ends when “Corazones,” their last album, is being produced. In dramatic terms, that’s the most interesting historical moment and when the conflict that finally sparks their break up also arises.
Lombardi: We jump about in time quite freely in the series: We want to capture the drama of these characters. It’s a series of characters, more than a chronicle of a band, We’re telling the story of Jorge González, Claudio Narea and Miguel Tapia, who they are and why what happens to them occurs.
Los Prisioneros are an iconic group at a very specific historical moment in Latin America, which gives the series a chance to drill down on the surrounding context. What’s been your approach in this regard?
Del Solar: They’re inseparable. Jorge Gonzalez doesn’t write independently of his surroundings despite rejecting the idea of he or the group having political pretensions or being a protest group. Los Prisioneros wouldn’t be pigeon-holed: ‘We’re not singing protest songs, we’re not Che Guevara [they’d insist]. But we not being frivolous or have access to power or the media.’ The question’s very interesting. They had a gift, that, from today’s viewpoint, was not only poetic but prophetic. Today, El Baile de Los Que Sobran” is hugely resonant in Latin America at a time when the continent is closing a chapter that began with Los Prisioneros and the fall of dictatorships. That age is now falling apart.
In this sense, Los Prisioneros, who channelled multiple influences, is a sort of an origins story of modernity, when youth, and its emotions, starts to have a historical importance?
Moreno: At the end of the ‘80s, when Spanish-language rock became important – mainly because of Argentina, partly Spain, to some extent Mexico – rock really continued to have a very European DNA. It was still very romantic, very pop. Suddenly some guys from [the working-class district of] San Miguel, who don’t dress up, are completely non-glam, no big hairstyles, they’re kids from a normal neighborhood but singing songs that had no filters, talking about issues head on. Many of us feel identified there. It’s really where we said: This is Latin American rock.
Del Solar: In their first album, “No Necesitamos Banderas” (lit: “We Don’t Need Flags”), which is an impressive kind of manifesto set to the rhythm of reggae, they say: ‘Nothing represents us, no religion, no political affiliation – not even those who represent us represent us.’ The series doesn’t just work on a political level. Los Prisioneros constantly wonder: ‘Who are we?’ Gonzalez’s answer is, ‘I don’t know, but we’re not that. We don’t go on TV, we’re not protest singers.’ The series is very much in line with that sense of uncertainty. Research and our structure have created time dynamics in which everything’s very intertwined, – the personal, political, – without necessarily giving answers. But these kids dared to ask difficult questions.
Joanna, you and Salvador are from Peru, Carlos is Colombian, Dominga Chilean, as are the lead writers, Enrique Videla (“La Jauría”) and Luis Barrales (“Mary and Mike”). The series encapsulates one of the major strategic thrusts by Movistar – to bring together talent from all over Latin America, in order to make better series for wider audiences.
Lombardi: Absolutely. “Capital Noise” was the first attempt to attach directors from outside a series’ country of origin. That was risky, but a very good decision. Basically I don’t want to lose a sense of the local, to be as local as possible. That’s what’s relevant, what interests us. But it has to be understood. When I, as a Peruvian director, making a Peruvian series thinking that people from other countries have to understand it, I can make mistakes, do simpler things than I should. I don’t think that happens with foreign directors. It seems contradictory, but I think that’s the key, having directors from outside allow us to be more, not less, local.