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‘Inés of My Soul,’ ‘Malinche,’ ‘Penumbra’ Re-Write Women’s Past

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 John Hopewell

MADRID — Women might well write more of the future, in real terms and fiction. First projects at Spain’s inaugural Conecta Fiction, a pioneering Latin America-Europe co-production forum, underscore how screenwriters, women and men, are rewriting women’s roles in the past.

Ambitious historical drama-thrillers produced by some of Latin America’s most prominent production houses, such as Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain’s Fabula (“Neruda”) in Chile and Dynamo Producciones, the Colombian producer of “Narcos,” this new breed of often super women series add a novel dimension to Latin America’s vibrant high-end drama scene.

Other projects at Conecta Fiction’s first Intl. Co-production Pitching Session, to take place June 21, include sci-fi “Strange Fishing Sundays” and crime thriller “Crack,” from Buenos Aires-based Storylab, backers of Netflix’s first Argentine premiere “Stockholm” – showing Spanish-language producers boldly embracing modern genre.

Produced by Chilean broadcaster Fabula (“Gloria,” “A Fantastic Woman”) and Chilevision, owned by Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System, and written by “The Secret in Their Eyes’” co-scribe Eduardo Sachieri adapting Isabel Allende’s same-titled epic novel, true-events-based “Inés of My Soul” portrays the remarkable conquistadora Inés de Sanchez, who co-founded Santiago de Chile and played a brutally decisive role in its defense. Yet, as Allende has complained, she was largely written out of history.

Set up at Mexico’s Eureka TV, “Malinche, The True Conquest of an Empire” delivers a woman’s re-reading of the Conquest, narrating the fall of the Aztec Empire from the POV of Malinche, a princess, slave and Hernán Cortes’ lover. Mexican dramatist-writer Ximena Escalante, who penned Argos’ “Corazon partido,” writes.

In another Conecta Fiction project, written by Shira Alon and produced by Israel’s Endemol Shine, the daughter of a modern-day Jewish family transmigrates into the body of a prostitute in the 19th century Buenos Aires demi-monde as she battles to save her soul prevent history repeating itself.

Other TV projects picture women battling in the past for freedoms they have not achieved in all parts of the world in the present. Written by Pablo Barrera, making over his own novel, Dynamo’s “Penumbra” posits that if 17th-century Latin America had a Sherlock Holmes, then it was a woman – a brilliant young astronomist who adopts the identity of a Jesuit priest to flee the Inquisition and ends up  in a Caribbean hell-hole settlement fighting a battle of wits with a serial killer.

An eight-part drama set up at Galicia’s Ficcion Producciones,(“Mar Libre,” “Meñique”) and Cuban Radio-Television Institute (ICRT), Cuba’s public broadcaster, “Amargura Street” is set in a tumultuous colonial 1850 Cuba, There, a slave searches for her daughters as a young bourgeois woman struggles for her freedoms. its synopsis reads.

In “Love in Times of Tinder,” a contemporary culture clash romantic comedy about a Caribbean girl in modern Galicia, a woman is still attempting to determine her own destiny, seeking out the perfect father-husband to have a child. A “‘Sex and the City’/‘Girls’ meets ‘Spanish Affair’/‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ for the modern woman,” said show-runner Annabelle Mullen at Puerto Rico’s Belle Films (“Demented”), “Love” is written by Mullen and Amelia del Mar and produced by both.

Taking in YA paranormal mystery drama “Sixth Sense High,” from Portugal’s Nuno Bernardo, the multi-Emmy nominated producer of “Sofia’s World” and “Collider,” in all seven of Conecta Fiction’s 10 TV drama projects turn on women, often strong female figures determined to forge their own future.

Two other projects explore contempo TV genre, whether Argentine Noir or alternative reality fantasy as Spanish-language TV fast catches up with the constructs of Nordic Noir and U.S. premium TV.

In “Crack,” a crime thriller from Lucas Molteni, a writer on StoryLab’s “Stockholm,” a young, charismatic PR exec gets the biggest break of his career the same night he makes the worse mistake of his life: Telling the truth. A co-producer on Intl. Emmy nominated “La casa del mar,” StoryLab produces.

Produced by Eduardo Carneros, producer of Nacho Vigalondo’s “Timecrimes,” and Alejandro Miranda (“Buried”), partners at Bilbao-based Laniakea, “Strange Fishing Days” weighs in as low-fi sci-fi. It turns on an astrophysics teacher who constructs a machine that allows him to experience other versions of himself in multiple alternative realities which could have been his life if his decisions and circumstances had been different. Creators are Javier Echániz, Asier Guerricaechebarria and Maria Maestre.

The 10 Conecta Fiction TV dramas also feature “Invisible Heroes,” a political drama-thriller set during Chile’s 1973 military coup, as a diplomat attempts to sidestep his government’s Cold War politics, to save the lives of Chileans. YLE Drama, the production arm of the Finnish pubcaster, produces.

Conecta Fiction’s 10-project official selection was made out of 70 applications, according to projects’ “quality, originality and suitability for co-production between Europe, the U.S. and Latin America, according to the event’s organizers, the Galician Cultural Industry Agency (AGADIC), the ICEX Export and Investments service, and the Spanish Audiovisual Rights Society (SGAR). Geraldine Gonard’s Inside Content produces the event. Sponsors Movistar + and Spanish pubcaster RTVE has committed to each put one Conecta Fiction project into development.


Title in English (Spanish) (writer, production company, country of origin)

“Amargura Street” (“Una casa en amargura”), (Mamen Quintas, Ficción Producciones, Spain, Cuba)

“Crack (Crack),” (Lucas Molteni, StoryLab, Argentina)

“Inés of My Soul (Inés del alma mía),” (Eduardo Sacheri, Chilevisión, Fabula, Chile)

“Invisible Heroes,” (Kylmä Tarja, Infante Guell Manuel, YLE Drama, Finland, Chile)

“Love in Times of Tinder” (“Amor en tiempos de Tinder”), (Annabelle Mullen, Amelia del Mar, Belle Films, Puerto Rico)

“Madame,” (Shira Alon, EndemolShine, Israel, Argentina)

“Malinche, The True Conquest of an Empire” (“Malinche”), (Ximena Escalante, Eureka TV, Mexico)

“Penumbra,” (Pablo Barrera, Dynamo Producciones, Colombia, Spain)

“Sixth Sense High” (“Colégio do templo”), (Nuno Bernardo, beActive Entertainment, Portugal)

“Strange Fishing Sundays” (“Extraños domingos de pesca”), (Javier Echániz, Asier Guerricaechebarria, Maria Maestre, Laniakea, Spain)

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