Latin American television is best known for producing incredibly long-running soapy telenovelas such as Yo Soy Betty La Fea, Marimar and Corazón Salvaje. However, in recent years broadcasters have started developing shorter, more premium fare, closer in tone to critically acclaimed cable dramas such as Breaking Bad, as they attempt to reach a younger, more affluent market as well as increasing the potential for sales to a wider global audience.
This push, which was highlighted at the Natpe television event in Miami in mid-January, has encouraged many of the major US media groups to aggressively expand into the region. Last year MTV and Comedy Central owner Viacom acquired Argentinean broadcaster Telefe, while Netflix launched across the region with originals such as Brazilian dystopian thriller 3% and Ingobernable, starring Kate Del Castillo as First Lady Irene Urzua of Mexico.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has launched an ambitious slate of local productions, including Run Coyote Run from Mexican director Gustavo Loza, Castro miniseries InFidel, Santa Evita, based on a book by Tomas Eloy Martinez, and a crime drama from Gael García Bernal (see below).
Grupo Globo, Brazil’s largest broadcaster, is one of a number of South American firms, including Televisa and Telemundo Internacional, that is keen to move away from producing telenovelas to focus on shorter-run thrillers such as Spanish-language psychological prison drama Supermax and crime drama Above Justice.
Aquí en la Tierra (Here on Earth)
Gael García Bernal has teamed up with Machete Language writer and director Kyzza Terrazas to create this eight-part series. It will air on Fox Networks channels across Latin America in 2018 and centres on the crimes of an influential Mexican family.
Surviving Pablo Escobar
Based on a book by John Jairo Velasquez, a Medellin hitman known as Popeye, Surviving Pablo Escobar is the latest premium drama about the Colombian drug lord. Produced by Colombian broadcaster Caracol, it will air on Netflix around the world.
A thriller that follows four people as they are arrested in one evening in Brazi ’s Recife. The drama is courtesy of Brazil Avenue director Jose Luiz Villamarim and written by Dangerous Liaisons’ Manuela Dias.
The advisory firm Art Agency, Partners, run by Allan Schwartzman and Amy Cappellazzo, is at the more formidable end of the art market: estate-planning and museum development. But since being acquired by Sotheby’s for a reported €80m, they’ve led themselves out into the fresh pasture of editorial.
Bringing in Charlotte Burns, former Americas art market editor at The Art Newspaper, at the end of January saw the launch of In Other Words, a newsletter that mixes critical and journalistic writing on art with more whimsical pieces. The project will be aided and abetted by audio offerings.
“No film, no matter how frightening, can be as frightening as what I have done.” German actor Christian Redl’s raspy voice fills the auditorium of Hamburg’s oldest private theatre as he tells the chilling tale of Estibaliz C, who moonlights as a ruthless murderer; one of countless true-crime stories featured in Stern Crime, a magazine dedicated to the genre and launched by Hamburg-based publishing house Gruner + Jahr in 2015.
When Stern’s editor in chief Christian Krug and the editor of Crime, Giuseppe Di Grazia, sat together two years ago to discuss the concept they didn’t expect it would end up on stage. In fact, February’s premiere was a first in every conceivable way: “Never before has a newspaper come to the theatre,” Krug announced before Redl delivered the two bloodcurdling stories he’d handpicked from the bimonthly with a circulation of 80,000.
Why do we have this twisted fascination with gruesome tales of crime? “It’s a form of escapism,” says Di Grazia, whose magazine (for which women make up 81 per cent of the readership) won the Lead Magazine silver award for newcomer magazine of the year 2016. It has also fed into the renaissance of highbrow true crime, signalled by the success of the likes of Netflix’s Making a Murderer. Redl adds: “It’s interesting to learn just how closely we’re walking along the edge of the abyss. How one unforeseen event can turn us into a criminal.”