Fabula-Fremantle’s “Santa Maria,” Leticia Dolera’s “Puberty” and “Fata Morgana,” a Western thriller executive produced by Béla Tarr, all feature at this year’s vastly expanded Conecta Fiction & Entertainment.
In further news announced Monday, Conecta Fiction will also stage the European premiere of Star Plus’ “Santa Evita,” executive produced by Salma Hayek Pinault and José Tamez, starring Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio, Darío Grandinetti and one of Disney’s most anticipated titles Spanish-language titles.
“Santa Evita” tells the true events-based and extraordinary story of the odyssey of Argentine First Lady Eva Perón’s embalmed body over three decades, her elevation to near sainthood saying much about Argentina and Latin America at large.
A panel discussion will be lead by the key cast, directors Rodrigo García and Alejandro Maci and the executives who led its production – Mariana Pérez, VP, development and production, TWDC Latin America, and Leonardo Aranguibel, VP, production, TWDC Latin America.
A Europe-Latin America TV and networking forum, Conecta Fiction unspools this year over June 21-24 in Toledo, the capital of Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha just south of Madrid.
One sign of growth is its already announced drive into entertainment programming, as its new title implies.
“Series production is on the build, but not only series, also programming in general,” Conecta Fiction director Géraldine Gonard said Monday at a press conference in Toledo.
That sectorial expansion can now be seen in the presence of five entertainment formats at a Conecta Fiction pitching session, created by high-profile Spanish companies such as Spain’s iZen Group, Federation Spain and Mediacrest.
The project pitching, Conecta Fiction’s industry centrepiece, has, moreover, now expanded to a total 31 titles, taking in new sections, such as High-End Series, reserved for series with budget of more than €1 million ($1.05 million) for a first episode. The new category serves to highlight project with more muscle,” Gonard said.
Further new sections include Feel-Good Formats and Docudrama Series. Conecta Fiction’s conference strand features a massive Spain Focus, spread over three days, backed by Spain’s ICEX as part of hiked support for Spain’s film-TV sectors thanks to an ambitious government-led $1.6 billion Spain AVS Hub plan.
Companies hosting panels, sometimes paired in order to build a larger picture of sectorial trends, take in Netflix and iZen, Disney Latin America and Star Plus, VIS,, Starzplay and The Mediapro Studio, Movistar Plus, Banijay, Paramount Plus and Morena Films, Beta Film and HBO Max and Pokeepsie Films.
One of the biggest grows signs may well, however, be the caliber of projects presented.
A religious thriller, “Santa Maria” represents a new title from the highly successful first look deal between Fremantle and Fabula who has already yielded “La Jauría” and “Señorita 89,” the latter with Pantaya and Starzplay.
“Puberty” reps Leticia Dolera’s follow-up to Canneseries double winner “Perfect Life,” whose Season 2 was produced by Movistar Plus and HBO Max.
A feminist Western, “Fata Morgana” is exec produced by Tarr, directed by György Pálfi (“Taxidermia”) and backed by AMC Networks Central Europe.
Further titles hail from Iceland’s Glassriver, one of the fastest growing production outfits in Scandinavia, “Gomorrah” producer Fandango, Spanish powerhouse Vertice 360, burgeoning Portuguese outfit SPi, and Victor Santos, whose prior graphic novel was adapted by Constantin and Dark Horse into hit Netflix action movie “Polar,” starring Mads Mikkelsen.
Monday’s press conferenced was preceded by a tour of Toledo highlighting movies which have shot in the city, such as Roman Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate ” and Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live In.”
A city packed with heritage sites just a 25-minute train ride from Madrid, Toledo has large potential as a shoot hub.
Toledo has the capacity to be a great location for shoots, without their makers traveling large distances,” Ana Isabel Fernández, of Castilla-La-Mancha’s director general of Tourism, Trade and Crafts, said at Monday’s press conference.
A further conference strand will focus on Castilla-La Mancha as a shoot locale and the larger picture of shooting in Spain.
Projects at the 2022 Conecta Fiction & Entertainment:
“Fata Morgana,” (Gabor Harmi, Queenside Pictures, Hungary)
Set in the wastelands of early 20th century Central Europe, exec produced by Béla Tarr, directed by György Pálfi (“Taxidermia”) and backed by AMC Networks Central Europe. Victória disguises herself as ‘The Piperman’ and goes on a killing spree, systematically murdering the husbands of oppressed women. “A compelling thriller based on true legends from Central Europe, which also dares to tackle deeply touching issues,” says creator Harmi.
“Motorway,” (Víctor Santos, Vértice 360, Born Wild, Eccho Rights, Spain-U.K.)
A dark fairy tale set beside an apocalyptic highway created by Spanish writer-cartoonist Víctor Santos, whose graphic novel “Polar” was adapted by Constantin and Dark Horse for Netflix, starring Mads Mikkelsen. Set up at Spain’s highly ambitious indie production company Vértice, it is “a unique series, with its own tone of voice that will capture and thrill viewers around the world,” in the words of Nicola Söderlund, at sales house Eccho Rights.
“Puberty,” (“Pubertad,” Leticia Dolera, Almudena Monzú, Distinto Films, Corte y Confección de Películas, Spain)
One of the hottest packages at Conecta Fiction, Leticia Dolera’s next after Canneseries double winner “Perfect Life,” from Movistar Plus and HBO Max, “Puberty” turns on an alleged sexual attack by a 13-year-old boy, plumbing the sexual taboos of the adults in charge of him. “Picadero” creator Almudena Monzú co-writes. Distinto Films, behind 2021 Locarno winner “The Odd-Job Men,” produces with Dolera’s own label.
“Santa María,” (Eduardo Sacheri, Fabula, Fremantle, Chile)
A Spanish priest, a nun sent by the Vatican and a Cuban detective attempt to solve the dreadful secrets that are taking place in a nursing home in Cuba in a series which looks to be positioned, as so much Fabula produces (think “Spencer” or “La Jauría”) in the sweet spot between premium and mainstream. Eduardo Sacheri, co-scribe on Juan José Campanella’s Academy Award-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” which adapted a Sacheri novel, is writing “Santa Maria,” one of the hottest properties to be brought onto the market at Conecta Fiction.
“Winter Palace,” (Lindsay Shapero, Odeon Pictures, Point Prod, Oble Studios, Switzerland, France).
1899. André Morel, an ambitious Swiss hotelier, battles to launch a pioneering five-star hotel running throughout the Winter Season in the Alps. A potential big period drama from Shapero, with Paris-based production-distribution outfit Oble (“Outbreak,” “No Return”) already on board and “Red Joan” describe Shapero writing.
“Alchevsky’s Mystery,” (Olga Krzhechevska, Natalia Rybalko, LLC Ideas Bank, Ukraine)
Set in 1901, an ambitious portrait of Alexey Alchevsky, founder of Russia’s first mortgage bank and Ukrainian Donbas patriot, framed through a procedural narrative of a young policeman investigating his mysterious death. “This is a project that answers the question that is topical nowadays in the whole world: What is the Donbas region?,” says producer Nataliya Yakovleva. Taras Dron (“The Glass House,” “Blindfold”) directs.
“From 6 to 8 PM,” (“Dalle 18 a 20,” Francesco Piccolo, Ilaria Macchia, Fandango, Italy)
From “Gomorrah” and “My Brilliant Friend” producer Fandango and penned by the latter’s scribe Piccoli and “Petra” writer Macchia, an erotic dramedy billed by its makers as Italy’s hottest series. “The best sex is not always at home,” its logline maintains.
“The Invisible Ink” (“La tinta invisible,” Fernando Epstein, Mutante Cine, Uruguay)
The entry into TV fiction creation by Fernando Epstein, a celebrated Uruguayan producer of auteur films such as “Whisky” and “Gigante.” Set up at Mutante Cine, one of Latin America’s key arthouse outfits, the TV project adapts two novels by Uruguayan author Eduardo Mariani, exploring part of the recent history of South America, linked to Europe through the exile of some of its characters.
“Jongleurs,” (“Juglares,” Miguel Ibáñez Monroy, Eric G. Moral Marc Pastor, Coming Soon, Spain)
An eight-part scripted series updating real but little-known myths and folklore legends to bring them straight into the 21st century, says Coming Soon’s Marta Ramírez, as three friends discover their connection with a magical world. From creator-screenwriters Ibáñez Monroy, co-writer of Elena Trapé’s “Distances,” Eric G. Moral (TV3’s “Buga Buga”) and Marc Pastor, co-writer of “The Year of the Plague.” Denis Rovira, (“The Boarding School: Las Cumbres”) is attached to direct.
“The Last Wolf,” (“O Último Lobo,” Bruno Gascon, SPi, Caracol Protagonista, Portugal)
Co-produced by SPi and Cascais-based Caracol Protagonista, two of Portugal’s most international production houses, set in the late ’90s and telling the true story of Franklim Lobo, one of the greatest European drug lords. Planned as a Portugal-Spain-Brazil co-production, with Portuguese filmmaker Bruno Gascon (“Carga,” “Shadow”) attached to write and direct.
“Magaluf,” (Ragnar Bragason, Snjolaug Ludviksdottir, Glassriver)
In 1979, a houndog Reykjavik D.J. becomes a Mallorca tour guide in a desperate attempt to win back his childhood sweetheart. Multi-prized Bragason (“The Night Shift,” “Prisoners”) writes the light romantic comedy with Ludviksdottir (“Stella Blomquist”), which is produced by “Black Sands” Glassriver – a powerful combination.
“Maybe in Mallorca,” (“Quizás en Mallorca,” Emilia Salde, Inma Films, Spain)
A young man in Mallorca seeks out his family past in Argentina, forming a love triangle knit by a shattering dark family secret. Showrun by Diego Moiso, producer of Netflix’s “Boca Juniors Confidential,” and created by Agustina Navarro, director of Amazon’s “A La Cuenta de 3.” Writers are Emilia Salde, co-scribe of Disney Plus/BTF Media Mexican hit “No Fue Mi Culpa,” and Gabriel Amiel, a co-scribe on Manolo Cardona’s “Uno para morir.”
“Status Quo,” (Gilbert Karam, Estephan Khatter, Né a Beyrouth Films, Lebanon)
Conecta Fiction’s first Arab project, from first-time director Gilbert Karam, an action drama involving three young female classmates who mistakenly kidnap the son of a corrupt political bigwig. Written, says Karam, as “a tribute to the victims of Beirut Blast and to all the victims of injustice in the world.”
“Sweet Sixty,” (Anna Ruohonen, Tuffi Films, Finland)
From Ruohonen, a scribe on Finland’s “Downshifters,” a popular TV host, now 60, gets laid off, learns personal growth, and has great sex. Tuffi Films (“Games People Play,” “Force of Habit”) produces.
“A Thousand Times No,” (“Mil Veces No,” Martin Romanella, Mondo TV Studios, Sphere Content)
A true-life political dramedy which sees Fidel Castro, David Bowie and Pope John Paul II rally to the cause of a small Madrid neighborhood. Set in Spain and Cuba, “a story of struggle and liberation that speaks of universal themes such as the right to a home and the search for happiness, in the name of dignity,” says producer Dimitri Papanikas at Tenerife-based Mondo TV Studios, part of Europe’s Mondo TV group.
“The Base,” (“La base,” Santiago Puerta, Spain)
1987. Pedro, 20, African-Spanish, gets a job at the Torrejón U.S. air force base, a world he idealises, embracing its American music. His path will cross, however, with his father, a former U.S. Air Force war pilot whom he’s never met. “In an increasingly global but polarized world, we need stories that help bridge the gap between cultures, races and generations. There’s nothing like music to help build that connection. That’s what ‘The Base’ is about,” said Puerta.
“The Executioners,” (“Verdugos,” Rodrigo Martin, Pedro Garcia Rios, Spain)
Navarre, 1996. Four kids in search of adventure find a kidnapped businessman held in an abandoned mine. He’ll be executed in three days unless his family pays the ransom. A coming-of-age suspense thriller mixing past and a present whose final sense is only revealed in the very last shot, says César Martínez at Dexiderius Producciones. Written by the rated Martín and García Rios, behind Conecta Fiction 2020 winner “Demokracy.”
“Panic!” (“Pánico,” Fernando Cámara, Spain)
A horror comedy from Cámara, a best new director Goya nominee for “Memorias del angel caído.” In it, a bucolic summer residence neighbourhood is thrown into panic by a masked assailant who sprays victims with anaesthetic gas. A crazed old man and his granddaughter set out to trap him down. “Fake news, the degradation of co-existence, terrified and unsupportive neighbors … That’s life!” Cámara ironizes.
“Podcastland,” (Pilar de Francisco, Spain)
A fiction comedy series with self-concluding episodes gently ribbing podcast genres and streaming channels – a radio morning show, a true crime doc, an in-depth interview, and so on – laced with humor, satire and absurdist moments.
“Villaverde,” (Rebeca Serrada, Diego Zúñiga, Spain)
A YA fantasy thriller as Villaverde, a village in Spain’s deep East, suddenly transforms into an American suburb packed with the clichés of Hollywood teen comedies. Only four local teens battle for it to return to its Spanish condition. Chosen for Filmarket Hub’s TV Pilot contest, a series that exploits the clichés of American movies and turns them upside down to highlight the idiosyncrasies of Spanish customs, say Serrada and Zúñiga.
“A Wicked Life in Madrid,” (“La Mala Vida,” Leire Albinarrate, Spain)
Madrid, 1901. To prove the social causes of criminal behaviour, Bernardo, a young anthropologist, embeds himself in the city’s most dangerous slums and begins a journey of self-discovery as he discovers its pleasures. “The series pushes the boundaries of period dramas, focusing on the untold perspectives of outcast, queer and disabled characters with a fresh take that juggles drama, crime and humor,” says writer Albinarrate.
“The Detour,” (“The Detour, la gira inesperada,” Eric Marodon, iZen Producciones Audiovisuales)
To what lengths would you go to get your favourite music star to detour and play a gig in your home town? From Marodon at Zebra Producciones. part of the Newen Studios-owned iZen, producer of Netflix reality show “Insiders.”
“A Laughing Murder,” (“Un crimen de risa,” Alejandro Torres, Spain)
On a stage, 10 comedians assume the characters of a whodunit mystery novel and a guest star takes on the role of the detective. “A fun game of ‘Cluedo’ live, on a real stage and with the most hilarious characters,” says Torres.
“Megacracks,” (Jordi Roca, Alex Miñana, Ferrán Cera, Visiona TV)
A quiz game where contestants have to guess what people on screen – witty megacracks – are talking about.
“Will You Fall For Me?” (“Lánzate al amor,” Isabel Durán, Spain)
From Federation Spain (“Las niñas de cristal”), a dating game with what sounds like a test of daring, if the brief synopsis is anything to go by: “What if you fell in love on a plane only to discover that literally, falling is the only way to continue that love affair?”
“Who is My Human,” (“¿Quién es mi humano?” Ignacio Matas, Hugo Tomás, Mediacrest, Spain)
From fast-expanding Mediacrest, a comedy quiz show starring dogs, in which contestants have to guess their owners, prompted by clues given by the voice-dubbed pets. A “perfect fusion between the narrative of entertainment and fiction,” comments creator Matas.
“Arran the Strong Man,” (Joao Tudella, Sabina Films, Portugal)
A doc series portrait of the life journey of professional surfer Arran Strong, born with a genetic Alpha-1 respiratory disorder. “An exhilarating series that aims to create awareness on mental health, rare diseases and, in this particular case, to reveal the importance of air quality,” says producer Liliana Lasprilla.
“Bad Sow,” (“Mala Siembra,” Vanessa Ciangherotti, Ángel Flores, Fernando Canek, Nidya Areli Diaz, El Cañonazo Multimedia, Minotauro Comunicacion, Gantha, Spain)
A true crime series: Sentenced to 393 years, a kidnapper tells his story in an impossible attempt at redemption.
“Flos Mariae: Fake or Not,” (“Flor Mariae: Tomo o Realidad,” Ghaleb Jaber Martínez, CTV, Spain)
Investigating the true story behind Christian pop group “Flor Mariae,” online phenom, the series asks what could be the dark secret behind this seven-sister band. From Jaber Martínez, writer-exec producer of “Bitter Daisies,” Netflix’s first Galician-language show.
“The Most Spectacular Robberies,” (“Atracos Espectaculares,” Jaime Silva, Zona Mixta, Spain)
A true crime series about the world’s most astonishing heists, with fictional reenactments and real testimonies, from Madrid’s Zona Mixta (“Into the Blue: The Wonders of the Coral Triangle”).
“Operation X,” (“Operación X,” Eulogio Romero, Juanma Gamazo, Koncept Company, ER Films, Spain)
Created by Romero, director-producer of HBO’s “Destino Rusia,” a true-life espionage thriller about key operations carried out by Spain’s Cesid-CNI intelligence services, told by the operatives themselves. “A never seen before series,” says Romero.
Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this article.