Content Americas Copro Pitch: Smart Social-Issue Thrillers, High Concept Docs and a Political Epic, From Mediapro, Fabula-Fremantle, iZen and More

Fabula-Fremantle’s “Hot Sur,” The Mediapro Studio’s “El Mal”  and “Two Nights in Lisbon,” from Portugal’s Hop Films and the U.K’s Heroes Films, look like potential standouts at next week’s Content Americas Copro Pitch 2024, one of its industry centerpieces.

These series projects will be joined by crime mystery thriller “Delito,” from Barcelona’s Grup Focus TV & Films, behind banner Amazon Original “Reina Roja,” “Iron Woman,” a tumultuous political saga from Brazil-based Jarsom Wayans, two high concept doc series – Argentina’s “Climate Migrants” and Brazil’s “Mystery of the Megafauna” – and bio doc feature “Farraquito, a Flamenco Story,” profiling the famed flamenco bailaor.

More from Variety

Shaping up as one of the biggest new titles to be brought onto the market at Content Americas, “Hot Sur” marks the latest from a fruitful 2019 multi-year first-look deal between Fremantle and Fabula, headed by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín, which has already yielded “La Jauría,” “Señorita 89” and “El Refugio.”

“El Mal” will be introduced to potential partners by The Mediapro Studio, behind “The Head,” and one of the leading lights of cross-Atlantic business, swooping to buy Latin America’s Oficina Burman and now Cimarrón, investing in Erik Barmack’s hugely expansive Wild Sheep Content in L.A. and a partner on titles with HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount, Amazon, Netflix and WBD, among many others.

Based on the novel by Chris Pavone, “Two Nights in Lisbon” is showrun by Henrique Oliveira, behind “Virago Palace” and “Cuba Libre,” and a driver on Portugal’s ever-more international TV scene.

Presented to potential co-production partners on Jan. 23, the eight titles capture the breadth of upscale production from Latin America, Spain and Portugal.

Yet common denominators remain. Most series have political or social point, whether the dirty political tricks of “Two Night in Lisbon” or the defencelessness of the homeless in “El Mal.” “Delito” has “an intricate and dizzying plot that defies expectations and serves as a reflection on today’s society,” notes Xavi Viza, director of Grup Focus’ film & TV Division. 

In series from Europe, these ideas are delivered by smart thrillers. In Latin America, titles – “Hot Sur” and “Iron Woman” – are social-issue melodramas wrapped up in fast-moving thrillers.

Emanuele Sanuto and Jarsom Wayans
Emanuele Sanuto and Jarsom Wayans

Winningly, “Hot Sur” bucks multiple cliches about Latinx portrayal –  its protagonist, fighting back against unjust imprisonment, is neither a criminal, nor sexualised nor victim. Fictional political thriller “Iron Woman” traces Black federal deputy Eliane Sanuto’s journey from deputy to President of Brazil over two decades later. That involves “struggles against oppression, personal tragedies and the weight of dictatorship’s legacy,” her “perspective challenging misogyny and racism, facing violence, torture and exile,” says showrunner Jarsom Wayans. It will make for a roller coaster ride, he promises.

A brief breakdown of CoPro Pitch 2024 titles:  

“Climate Migrants,” (“Migrantes Climáticos,” Argentina)

A hybrid doc/fiction picturing population displacement caused by climate change in Latin America, and its implications for the future. Split between fiction scenarios set between 2050 and 2200 and doc data and expert talking heads, the six-part doc series captures possible outcomes such as volcanic mudslides and eruptions, glaciers melting, floods and disease. Buenos Aires’ Unitref Media produces.  

“Delito,” (Grup Focus TV & Films, Spain)

On a warm June night, 10 people, with no apparent connection, jump to their deaths from the seventh floor of one of Madrid’s most iconic hotels. Forensic specialist Santi Munárriz, young hacker Miguel and mysterious journalist Berta Gigliani lead the investigation. An addictive and fast-paced thriller with large depth,” says Grup Focus’ Viza, also behind movie “Escape Room.” Based on a best-seller by Spain’s Carme Chaparo and penned by seasoned scribe Carmen López Arreal, a lead writer on Disney+’s “La chica invisible” from Morena Films and co-scribe on Benito Zambrano’s “The Sleeping Voice,” and Marina Efrón (“The Invisible Girl,” “Soy Luna”).    

“Farruquito, a Flamenco Story,” (Japan, U.S., Spain)

A doc feature on the life of Farruquito, a famous flamenco bailaor, framed as a classic redemption story. But it’s also a study of family legacy, here artistic, as Farruquito, grandson of El Farruco, plays with, looks back and tutors son El Moreno, just 11, but an on-the-rise star on Spain’s flamenco scene. Capa España, part of Spain’s iZen group, produces. Created by Reuben Atlas, directed by Atlas and Aguado and drawing inspiration from Saura’s “Flamenco Flamenco,” Wim Wenders’ “Pina” and David LaChapelle’s “Rize,” “a wider exploration of a unique artform and a culture and its ability to transcend,” say its makers.

Reuben Atlas and Henrique Oliveira
Reuben Atlas and Henrique Oliveira

“Hot Sur,” (Fabula, Fremantle, Mexico-U.S.)

Maria Paz, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, becomes a fugitive after being falsely accused of murder. Hunted by a determined U.S. Marshal and her vengeful former lover, she must navigate a treacherous path to clear her name and protect her family. Adapting the same-titled 2012 novel from Colombia’s Laura Restrepo (“Delirio”), a series with big creative talent attached and pedigreed producers which weighs in as a Content Americas highlight.

“Iron Woman,” (“Mulher de Ferro,” Brazil)

Created by Jarsom Wayans (El silencio tiene rostro de mujer”), and inspired by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, a tumultuous fictional political thriller set at three times periods from the ‘60s to ‘90s in Brazil and based on long research of resistance to and repression by dictatorship in Brazil, aiming to “to raise awareness about silenced Black women during the military dictatorship, celebrating the resilience of silenced women,” says Wayans. Eliane Sanuto, a Black Brazilian federal deputy battling Brazil’s military dictatorship, is forced into exile. Two decades later, she returns to challenge the regime, emerging as the sole opposition candidate in presidential elections. Rio de Janeiro’s Sanuto Produções produces with Eva Filmes Colectivo Preto, Emanuele Sanuto executive co-producing.

Iron Woman
Iron Woman

“El Mal,” (The Mediapro Studio, Spain)

A serial killer prowls the streets of locked-down Barcelona in March-April 2020, hunting for victims among those still out on the streets: the homeless. Based on a true story. Created and lead written by Lluís Alcarazo, creator of crime thriller “Night and Day” and doc feature “Special Case,” both well received in Spain. “‘El Mal’ is different in tone and in terms of setting, situation. The series, with a classic narrative, maintains a disturbing atmosphere, in line with great masters of contemporary cinema such as David Fincher or Michael Mann and with echoes of films such as “Seven,” “Zodiac” and “Collateral,” and series such as “Mindhunter,” thoroughly introducing us to the investigation of these crimes in the context of a less luminous Barcelona, but fascinating in its portrait and photography,” says Javier Mendez, The Mediapro Studio head of cinema and co-head of television.

“Mystery of the Megafauna,” (Grifa Filmes, Brazil)

Travelling through archaeological sites and natural history museums across America, Brazilian paleontologist Gerry de Iuliis and son, archaeology student Jacob de Iuliis, reconstruct the extinction of America’s megafauna and their potential causes, including human activity. Produced by Brazil’s Grifa Filmes, behind doc series of awesome visuals and high-concept revisionism, made in international co-production such as 2022’s“Rivers Above the Canopy.”  

“Two Nights in Lisbon,” (Hop Films, Portugal; Heroes Films, U.K.)

Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon alone, her recently-wed much younger husband vanished off the face of the earth. Desperately searching for him, she realises how little she really knows about him. But she’s not whom she says either. An adaptation of the novel by Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of “The Expats,” set up at Henrique Oliveira’s Hop Films (“Cuba Libre,” “Vidago Palace”) and London-based Heroes Films, which boarded at Mipcom. Currently looking for top American/U.K. female directors, says showrunner Oliveira, who is penning the adaptation with Pavone. “‘Two Nights in Lisbon’ is a “complex, intelligent, multi-layered thriller, filled with twists, turns, husbands, wives, secrets and lies – and it will linger long after you watch the surprising final scene,” he promises.

“Delito” Poster
“Delito” Poster

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.