Conecta Fiction & Entertainment Unveils Projects From Fabula, Federation, Story House, Vertice 360 

Fabula’s “Superman’s Bodyguards,” “Sisi” head writer Andreas Gutzeit’s thriller “Disgrace” and “Hildur,” from Finland’s Matti Laine, who scored with “The Paradise,” all feature at this year’s  

still vastly expanded Conecta Fiction & Entertainment, the Europe-Latin America TV and networking forum, now in its seventh edition.

They will be presented to an audience of producers and distributors at the industry centerpiece at Conecta Fiction.  

Set up at Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín’s Fábula, producer of Oscar winning A fantastic Woman” and “Spencer,” “Superman’s Bodyguards” tells the true story of Christopher Reeve’s perilous mission to Chile to attempt to save the lives of 78 Chilean actors under death threat from an extreme right faction in a Chile still ruled by Augusto Pinochet.  

A fast-paced thriller, “Disgrace” is from Story House Pictures’ Andreas Gutzeit, head writer on the banner Beta/RTL Canneseries 2021 smash hit “Sisi,” sold to over 120 countries, plus the critically lauded “Dignity,” a pioneering Chile-Germany co-pro backed by ProSieben’s Joyn and aired on HBO and  

Billed as Nordic Blue, a crime series with a glimpse of hope, “Hildur” marks the latest from Laine who brought a large slice of humanity to “The Paradise,” a Costa del Sol crime drama marking a reawakening to life of its 60-year -old Finnish detective. 

Major Spanish-language world companies Zebra Producciones, behind big Amazon Original “El Cid,” Dopamine, Shine Iberia, Vértice 360, Izen and Grupo Ganga back projects to be unveiled at Concta Fiction.   

In further news, “Chopin, the Series” a high-end Mexico, Chile, Germany co-production will be presented in Conecta Fiction Pitch Music Series, featuring music-themed scripted skeins, in one of the biggest-budgeted plays in the whole lineup.

Federation Studios-backed Glisk – run by Philipp Steffens, the former head of fiction at RTL TV, and ex-Relativity TV exec Julie Link (““Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) – produces “Death in the Andes,” an adaptation of the novel by Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa by Peru’s Josué Méndez an illustrious film director and TV series writer.  

Unspooling June 26-29 for the second year in Toledo, the capital of Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha, just south of Madrid, Conecta Fiction will retain 2022’s new showcase sections of high-end projects, feel good formats and docudramas, and add other soon-to-be announced new showcases.

This expansion reflects the backing of ICEX, Spain’s bullish export and inward investment agency, as part of the ambitious government-led €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) Spain AVS Plan.

Sluiced by comedies, or series with a comedic tone, and social-issue series, Conecta Fiction’s project lineup looks reflect in other ways an industry zeitgeist.

Once working a Latin America-Spain/France street, Conecta Fiction has broadened its compass, projects now hail from Lebanon. 

As producers fear an streaming service pull back from original production, Geraldine Gonard, Conecta Fiction director, stressed at a Cannes Festival presentation that the event is “focused more than ever” in creating opportunities for talent and financing tools for producers.”

Conecta Fiction is supported by the government of Castilla-La Mancha, ICEX, Spain Film Commission, Fundación SGAE and rights society DAMA. 

A drill-down on titles, with title, screenwriter(s), production companies and nationality.     

HIGH-END SERIES

“The Drop,” (“La Prueba,” Xavier Zabaleta, Marta Grau, Pausoka Ent., Federation Spain, Spain)

From the Basque Country’s Pausoka Ent, and Federation Spain, behind Netflix’s “Dancing on Glass,” starring Elite’s Maria Pedraza, “The Drop” is a thriller whodunnit created by Zabaleta (“El Vasco”) and Grau (“Tros”). Set in Spain and France, a family man is accused of an unsolved murder about to prescribe, DNA evidence appearing to incriminate him. “‘The Drop’ wants to talk about the consequences for the people around the accused and the control that the social media has of what is true and what is not,” says Pausoka’s Ainhoa Blanco.

“Floor 13,” (“Planta 13,” Luis Arranz, Zebra Producciones, Spain)

From Zebra, a psychological thriller, and cop drama, in which nine strangers, all having walked scot-free from crimes, are abducted to a modern tower to floor, and made to pay for the past. Zebra fiction head Arranz leads development with writers Luis Lorena and Cristina Pons. “Floor 13” is “loaded with tension, action and dramatic suspense; an ambitious high concept that, carried out with the high production standards it deserves, can perfectly become a successful franchise born from Spain to the world,” say its makers.   

“Numana,” (Soledad Velasco, Jesica Arán, Clara Films, Chile)

Two custom-made babies, now adults, rebel against the company, Numana, which manufactured them. From Velasco, writer of Disney+’s “Soñando Alto,” and Arán, scribe of Disney Channel Spain’s “Camp Newton,” and Clara Larraín’s Santiago de Chile-based  Clara Films (“Now They Are Coming for Us”). “Women creating Latin American genre and questioning the new social order through a high-end TV show: In the subtext we are screaming out: ‘Hey, they are turning us into products!’ says Larrain.    

“Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown,” (Sophie White, Deadpan Pictures, Ireland)

Billed as a darkly comic drama about hedonistic young chef Claire Healy pops a pill, suffers psychosis, ends up in a psychiatric ward, yearning for recovery. Irish author, journalist and podcast host White writes. Paul Donovan and Ailish McElmeel’s Deadpan Pictures produces.  “In Sophie White we have found a unique, honest, darkly comic voice for TV. 

It’s visceral, dark and funny because in the face of total life collapse humour is your life-raft,’ says Deadpan co-founder McElmeel.

“Urban Ink,” (“Tinta urbana,” Angeles Reiné, Mercedes Lane, Bixagu Ent., Spain)

Catching attention with 2022 Málaga Fest movie “Heroes on the Block,” Reiné returns as writer/director with the social-issue tinged coming of age drama of a talented young tattoo artist, threatened by a conflictive broken family past. Mercedes Lane co-writes; Bixagu, behind Carlota Pereda’s Cannes standout “The Chapel,” produces.    

COPRO SERIES

“Boys, The Series,” (“Chicos, la Serie” Marta Vazgo, D’Sierto, Spain)

A dramedic romcom half-hour delivering a take on contemporary love’s fleeting relationships via the differing experiences of five female friends living in Madrid’s La Latina district. Created by Vargo, behind Instagram one-minute series of the same name, with 2 million views from 2019. A title at Ventana Sur’s SoloSeries Spanish Screenings on Tour.  A situation comedy inspired by series such as “Girls,” “Friends” and “Sex in New York,” says Vazgo.

“Cachimba,” (Sara Judith González Pérez, AVI Films, Mexico)

A young woman makes carnitas of her father’s murderer. When the dish proves a hot, she sets out to find more bodies to continue the trade. Set up at Spain and Argentina-based AVI Films (“Camp Newton”), co-run by Jesica Arán. Created by on-the-rise Mexican writer González Pérez, “Cachimba” is “a dark comedy series with international appeal. It tackles serious issues in an uncomfortable and comedic way, featuring relatable characters and gritty settings,” says Arán.  

“Death in the Andes,” (“Lituma en los Andes,” Josué Méndez, Glisk, Capacitor Media, Peru)

A strong talent package: Renowned IP Vargas Llosa’s novel “Lituma en los Andes” and Méndez whoadapts an early ‘80s tale of Lituma which, kicking off with three villagers going missing in the Andean highlands, builds by lifting the lid on still roiling ancient horrors and becomes a reflection on Peru’s historical ills. 

“Disgrace,” (“Schande,” Andreas Gutzeit, Story House Pictures, Germany)

“Taken” meets the 1978 World Cup, with ex German special ops Hanno Heller travelling to Buenos Aires as a German team bodyguard to discover his daughter is “disappeared” and very probably will be executed when the tournament ends. A propulsive Conecta Fiction highlight.

“Favàritx,” (Luis E Pérez, Pilar Paredes, Lluís Illescas, Violeta Barca-Fontana, TV ON Producciones, Admirable Films, Empàtic Comunicació, Spain)

A brilliant inspector returns to her home town for a quiet life and instead faces a serial killer who passes off murders as suicides. “The first scripted series to be set and shot on Menorca, which will show it as the enigmatic and quiet island it becomes during the winter,” says producer Paloma Mora. From an original idea by Illescas, written by Paredes and Barca-Fontana, with Pérez (“Videopolis”) coordinating writing.   

“Get Pretty Barcelona,” (“Ponte Guapa, Barcelona,” Gabriel Amiel, Julieta Steinberg, Spain)
Billed as a teen drama/melodrama, set months before Barcelona’s 1992 Olympics in which three squatters plan a huge scam, a false high society wedding as a front for a series of heists aimed at the city’s wealthiest families. Created by Gavo Ariel, behind Paramount Latin America’s “Uno para morir.” Inga Films, behind “Maybe in Mallorca,” pitched at Ventana Sur’s SoloSeries Spanish Screenings on Tour. 

“Hildur,” (Matti Laine, Take Two Studios, Finland)

From a Fin, Laine, who also worked in “Bordertown” and “Bullets” writers rooms, but this is set in Iceland as a cop, Hildur, pursues a serial killer in its freezing fjords but hopes against hope that her two little sisters, who disappeared without trace 25 years before, could still be alive. 

“Labelled Red,” (“Marcados de Rojo,” Toni Soler, Francesc Escribano, Spain)

October 1981. Two women doctors detect the first case of AIDS in Spain, and battle to alert institutions’ for its victims’ dignity. From Soler and Escribano (“Smiley,” “Te quiero imbécil”).

“The Lake,” (“El Lago,” Oriol Cardus, Spain)

Produced by Grupo Ganga, behind Spain’s longest-running prime-time series, “Remember When,” the dark humored social parable of the abduction of a seemingly anonymous accountant in Switzerland’s Neuchatel, which its inhabitants attempt to ignore. Created by Cardus, a commercials and short film director. 

“Mujica,” (“Mújica, Gonzalo Arias, Argentina)

José Mújica is known as the sage former president of Uruguay. This origins series captures another man, the headstrong young Tupamaro guerrilla fighter whose blood boiled at inequalities. Created by Argentine consultant and producer Arias.

DOCUDRAMAS

“Superman’s Bodyguards,” (“Los guardaespaldas de Superman,” Sebastián Radic, Daniel Castell, Fábula, Chile)

A four episode, half-hour crime-adventure tragicomedy turning on Christopher Reeve’s trip to Chile in 1987, under Pinochet’s dictatorship. The plan: to save the lives of 78 people under death threat and open the doors to democracy. Per creative director Daniel Castell, it’s told “from the perspective of a group of actresses and actors fundamental to the counterculture during the dictatorship.”

“NS55, the Abandoned Spy,” (“NS55, Infiltrado abandonado,” Santi Acosta, Kometa Producciones, Artemisa Entertainment, Dusko Pictures, France-Spain)

International docudrama project by HBO Max’s “Salvar al Rey” director Santi Acosta. This time he follows Marc Fiévet, a French adventurer who, after traveling half the world, settles in Gibraltar and manages to infiltrate large drug trafficking networks, working with the Italian mafia. Intercepted by Canadian police, Marc doesn’t reveal his infiltrator role, is arrested, spending 10 years in prison, sacrificed to avoid a political scandal of anti-drug practices.

“Letters from Iraq,” (“Cartas do Iraque,” Fernando Honesko, Mauricio Zattoni, Desirée Portela, Ocean Films, Brazil)

A four seg drama built from the memories of a group of Brazilians in the Iraqi desert in the 1980s, trapped in a billion-dollar joint venture between Saddam Hussein’s regime, the construction company Mendes Júnior and the Brazilian government. Honesko was behind ”Mauá – O Primeiro Gigante,’” a History Channel worldwide pickup.

“Tonight You Should Go See the Boss,” (“Esta noche deberías ir a ver al jefe,” Astrid Otal, Jana Arcega, Chulada Cine, Spain)

Located in Spain and Morocco and narrated as a thriller, the doc series describes the case of 10-day laborers that flee the strawberry farm where they were working after suffering workplace and sexual abuse. With the help of a tireless journalist and a lawyer, they take their case to court, which doesn’t mean they will win

“Hazing – Killing Sanda Dia” (“Bizutage – la mise à mort de Sanda Dia,” George Huercano, Claire Sonck, AT-Production, Belgium)

French-Flemish true-crime drama series backed by RTL Belgium about harassment at college, racism and the omerta regarding hazing. Scripted by Georges Huercano, creator of Netflix’s “Under Suspicion: Uncovering the Westphael Case” docuseries.

MUSIC

“Loulou,” (Tala Arakji, Farah Al Turki, Youmna Bou Hadir, The Talkies, Lebanon) 

Loulwa, a tenacious Saudi teen, moves to Beirut under the false pretence of going to university while her real mission is to become a world-famous DJ. Lebanese-American and Saudi-raised Tala Arakji, “Loulou” creator, showrunner and head writer, makes his TV series debut. Developed alongside regional broadcaster OSN+.

“Border Station,” (Vianessa Castaños, Anthony Alleyne, Anacaona Productions, Vertice 360, Born Wild, Spain, UK)

A historical espionage drama-thriller, with time-travel elements, about a jazz singer transported back to 1941, where she must confront her deepest fears to navigate a dangerous world at war. Created by Born Wild founder Anthony Alleyne (“Sunburn”), with Anacaona’s Vianessa Castaños as showrunner and lead writer, alongside France-based author Geoff Dupuy-Holder (“Dark Sense”). Top Spanish indie producer-distributor Vértice 360 backs the project.

“Dendê – What Happened with the Biggest Brazilian Rapper?” (“Dendê – O que aconteceu com o maior rapper do Brasil?,” Lautaro Núñez de Arco, Nando Cola, Martín Escriche, Vandalo TV, Brazil)

True-crime mockumentary about Dendê, Brazil’s most successful rapper in the 2000s, who is accused of kidnapping and killing his girlfriend. Years later, he discovers new clues about what happened to her and decides to investigate. First series project by Brazil-based music videos director (Snoop Dogg, Rick Ro$$) Martin Escriche, co-founder of 10-year-old production company Vandalo TV.

“Chopin, the Series,” (“Chopín, la serie,” Victoria Orvañanos, Alex Balassa, Marisol Mijares, Bastian Griese, John David Coles, Balassa Films, MMC Fiction, Mexico, Chile, Germany)

Mexico, Chile-based, International Emmy Award nominated Balassa Films join forces with Germany’s MMC Studio’s fiction arm to produce this romantic period drama musical series that tells Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt’s quest to change people’s hearts with the power of music, “the true first rock stars in history,” in the producers’ words. The project teams “Amélie’s” Bastian Griese and Latin Grammy and International Emmy nominee, Alex Balassa. 

“Golden,” (Hugh Travers,  Paul Donoval, Ailish McElmeel, DeadPan Pictures, Ireland) 

A three-season relationship drama on a separating Irish couple working together to run a chaotic, late-90s record label in a music scene on the verge of the digital-download-disaster era. Donoval and McElmeel, at the award-winning Dublin-based boutique Deadpan, have been working with Travers to produce a bible, episodic outline documents and are in talks to several broadcasters and distributors. 

“DiscoBox” (Beatriz Flores Silva, Hubert Toint, Saga Film, Kaos Films, Belgium, France)

A dramedy from screenwriter-director Flores Silva (“Masangeles”) set in a remote village in Belgium in the 70’s. There, the son of a butcher and a lifeguard find the magic recipe of create international hits from workers in nearby factories. Backed by RTL Belux.

FEEL GOOD FORMATS

“Your Life in 3 Minutes,” (“Tu vida en 3 minutos,” Lucas Vidal, Xevi Aranda, Begoña Marín,  Sebastián Reyes, Dopamine, Shine Iberia, Mexico, Spain)

A series of 10 musical-interview-travel segs, set in Mexico and Madrid. In every episode, renowned Spanish soundtracks composer Lucas Vidal (“Elite,” “Fast & Furious 6”) puts music to the past of a celebrity in which Dopamine’s Entertainment director Aranda describes as “a symphony of emotions.”   

“Clean Up!” ( Ana Joven, Paco Escribano, Minoría Absoluta, Spain)

Eight celebrities must prove that they are the most neat, resourceful and sustainable people by overcoming the most difficult cleaning challenges. The talent contest is set up at Barcelona’s Minoría Absoluta. Joven’s experience in entertainment formats take in “Mira quien baila,” “Your Face Sounds Familiar,” “Monica and Sex” and “Acoustic Home.”

“Local Hero” (Laura Baviano, Xanela Producciones, Spain)

Docu-reality format aimed at depicting people’s needs in small Spanish towns and helping neighbors to achieve them, making them go onto unprecedented adventures. Xanela’s team credits include a successful Spanish adaptation of “ The Alphabet Game.” 

“Carbon 14” (“Carbono 14,” Eric Marodon, Arantza Sánchez, Grupo Izen, Spain)

Eco-reality competition where the contenders will face sports events linked to ecology. Every gram of CO2 they emit into the atmosphere will become the actual weight they will have to carry. What they eat, what they wash… everything becomes weight. And the accumulated weight will be a burden for both them and the rest of the players. Set up at one of Spain’s biggest indie production companies, part of Newen Studios. 

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