Chile’s Matías Bize, the multi-prized director of “In the Bed,” “The Life of Fish” and “The Memory of Water,” is attached to direct “The Stolen Kids” (“Niños de Contrabando”), a family drama straddling Chile and Europe set up at María Wood Producciones and MegaMedia, the latter part-owned by Discovery Networks Latin America.
A true-life inspired series, “The Stolen Kids” will be presented on Tuesday at Pamplona’s Conecta Fiction, the Europe-Latin America TV series co-production forum. It features as one of the 10 projects chosen for the event’s main Copro Series competition.
Relaunched in 2020 by Wood, producer of Turner’s “Mary & Mike” and Joyn’s “Dignity,” Maria Wood Producciones look set to focus, as in past series produced by Wood, on premium scripted drama of substance, with a social or political underbelly and frequent recourse to creative film talent.
That describes “The Stolen Kids” to a tee. In it, Aga learns that her adopted son was stolen at birth. Together they search for the truth and discover a conspiracy of Chilean child trafficking stretching back near 70 years.
The series has been developed by Wood and Jaime Sepúlveda, who executive produces for MegaMedia, owner of free-to-air Chilean network Mega. Its scripts are being written by Camila Villagrán, who saw large success as head writer on Chilean telenovela “Solamente Julia,” and María de la Luz Urriola, a Pablo Neruda Prize winning poet and screenwriter, with whom Vilagrán penned 2014 telenovela “Volver a Amar.”
“The Stolen Kids” is inspired by true events in Chile which occurred between 1950 and 2000: The sale of more than 20,000 children to foreign couples. “Developed as a family investigation drama, the series acquires an intimate point of view which allows it to draw attention to lives broken by crimes which have not been recognized nor compensated by the Chilean state,” said Wood.
She added: “In this sense, the fragmented narrative will engage spectators, immersing them in the reconstruction of the story, as they come to understand the scale of the network which affected the lives of thousands of families in Chile and abroad.”
Few Chilean directors are better known for their sense of intimacy than Bize – he broke through with “In the Bed” – who has an ability to zero in on the emotional heart of a moment, caught in small details, dialog, or sometimes what is left unsaid.
Bize’s 2010 “The Life of Fish” was chosen by Variety’s Peter Debruge in 2020 as one of the 10 best foreign films in the last decade still languishing without U.S. distribution.
Given “The Stolen Kids” takes place between Chile and Sweden, its producers hope to find a production alliance or co-production partner in Europe, and more specifically Sweden or Scandinavia. The intention is to cast key roles from the European country of the partner and shoot there as well, Wood said.