Spain’s Onza Distribution, with offices in Madrid and Miami, has seized international rights to mini-series “Allende, the Thousand Days,” released this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Chile’s first socialist president, Salvador Allende, and sadly, the military coup that kickstarted general Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime.
Lead produced by Chile’s Parox (“Invisible Heroes,” “The Substitute”), in collaboration with Mediterraneo Media Entertainment, Aleph Media, 1010 Mente Colectiva and HD Argentina, the mini-series premiered Sept. 7 on Chile’s TVN, which reported stellar audience ratings.
The four one-hour episode series is the first fictional series attempt to explore the period of time when Allende’s Popular Unity party was in power and the challenges it faced. It is told from the point of view of a fictitious Spanish political science student who eventually becomes Allende’s closest advisor.
Allende, played by an unrecognizable Alfredo Castro (“El Conde”), is front and center of several pivotal events that made Chile a focal point of global geopolitical balances in the early 1970s.
Commented Parox producer Leonora Gonzalez on behalf of herself and fellow producer, Sergio Gandara: “We wanted to talk about one of the most globally significant figures in Chilean politics, who, despite his violent death, was a staunch advocate for peaceful social transformation in Chile.”
She added: “We were also interested in Salvador Allende because he was a dramatically compelling character. He wasn’t the typical Latin American revolutionary of the ‘70s, and for that reason, he had to confront the contradictions and frictions caused by his political project,” she asserted, continuing: “He was also a man who enjoyed life, was fun-loving, a friend to his friends, a ‘young old man,’ as he liked to define himself. Finally, it seemed very appealing to us to portray the process of the Popular Unity through fiction, with all the hope for transformation and joy that it carried.”
With the start of principal photography announced in May, Parox raced against time to bow the series in time for Allende’s 50th death anniversary.
“Summarizing such a complex historical period in four episodes was a significant challenge. We could have made three seasons of 12 episodes, and we would still have stories left to tell,” noted Gonzalez, who added that once financing was secured, the whole production process took them 10 months.
Compounding the time restraints was getting the historical characters’ physical appearance down pat. “We decided to use prosthetics on Alfredo Castro, which required a lot of trial and error, and considerable time and resources,” she pointed out.
“We are thrilled to be distributing such a high-quality historical drama about one of the most prominent political figures of the 20th century; it is a great series that will leave no one indifferent,” commented Béatrice Nouh, head of sales, Onza Distribution.
Onza is one of the multiple Spanish and European companies making forays into Latin America, partnering with local companies, some even taking majority stakes in them, and tapping the continent’s compelling stories. In 2021, the company set up Onza Americas for that purpose.
Another Spanish-language Onza title in development is “Perverso” (“Heartless”) with show creator Alonso Laporta (“The Ministry of Time”) and Gustavo Ron as showrunners. The 8-episode dramatic series, which starts shooting in October, revolves around Haro, an aristocrat serving a sentence for rape and murder. When he starts facing death threats from a kidnapper who targets the business elite, he negotiates for more jail benefits in exchange for his help in the investigation. But his true motive is to seek revenge against the judge who sent him to prison.
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