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Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Chile-headquartered Fabula (“Spencer,” “A Fantastic Woman”) and Fremantle have tapped Argentina’s Eduardo Sacheri, co-writer of the Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” to write “Santa María,” an eight-part high-end series.

Part of global producer-distributor Fremantle’s multi-year first look deal with Fabula, Fremantle will co-produce “Santa María” and handle its international distribution.

Now in development, “Santa María” is set to be presented at this month’s Conecta Fiction & Entertainment in its highly select High-End section of five projects, weighing in as one of Conecta Fiction’s 31 titles which is sure to fire up most interest at the TV forum.

An expansion of narrative reach for Fabula in line with its Prime Video series “El Presidente,” “Santa Maria” will be produced out of Fabula’s Mexico production beachhead. It turns on a Spanish priest, a nun sent by the Vatican and a Cuban detective who are faced with solving the dreadful secrets that are taking place in a nursing home in Cuba.

“Like a large part of our contents, the series feeds off a sub-stratum of reality to create a fantasy world, in this case a home housing the most perverse priests in the region who will be discovered and made the subject of an investigation, a metaphor for a tipping point as the Catholic Church crumbles,” said Ángela Poblete, president of Fabula TV.

She added: “This formula of feeding off reality and incorporating fantasy elements allow us to make content which is deep but very entertaining: a potent mix of plot twists grounded in mysterious characters.”

Sacheri has written a bible and a pilot. The partners aim to complete development this year and go into production at the beginning of 2023.

Rather like the Lucía Puenzo showrun “La Jauría,” the first Fabula-Fremantle production, the plot set-up gives the series a strong narrative drive at the same time as a specific world.

“What is interesting is the clerical setting, as it adds a certain mystery to the world,” said Christian Vesper, Fremantle president of global drama.

As Vesper has commented, Fabula series hit a sweet spot between tight, compelling thrillers and some big ideas which allow the dramas to transcend the local, mix premium and mainstream tropes. 

“Santa Maria” is no exception, he said: “You get the plotting and momentum of a thriller, but as is often the case with Fabula, they take you into a world that is not often seen in this genre.”

“The series is pan-regional, as was ‘El Presidente,” in that it aims to bring together Ibero-American talent which gives the broadest of visions to this content,” Poblete said.

“The moral crisis of the church, its abuses and the fall of this empire have had a large impact on our nations of believers and the devout. It’s a story we know closely and we can create a highly interesting common story, linking to talents of different nationalities behind and in front of the camera.”

“The settings of our earlier series have all been very local, so the casts and creatives have all come from Latin America or Mexico, Vesper added. “That said, the story telling ambition of Fabula and Fremantle is very broad, and you’ll be seeing more projects that take place outside of Latin American and with global cast,” he added.