Movistars El Inmortal with Banijay’s DLO Telemundo Streaming Studios

World premiere in the main competition of the Cannes series, “El Immortal – Gangs of Madrid” is the latest original series from Movistar Plus, Telefonica’s Spanish pay-TV/SVOD arm, produced with Banijay’s DLO Producciones and Telemundo Streaming Studios. Beta Film handles international distribution.

It shows. ‘El Inmortal’, a trademark of Movistar Plus, reflects a real Spanish reality, the rise and fall – or here fall and rise, then perhaps fall and re-rise – of the founding leader of Los Miami, a gang that runs Madrid’s voracious ‘drug business’ 90s José Antonio’s real-life counterpart survived four attempts on his life to become a legend and earn his epic nickname.

But it also nails other facets of high-end scripts.

“El Inmortal” begins with 90s Madrid drug lord José (Alex García, scary) calmly insisting on living his life and driving his young daughter to her posh elementary school.

Shortly after he drops them off, a motorcycle blasts bullets past, leaving him for dead. Whether this is his final death is another matter.

Cut many years ago when José is first spotted in his humble barrio in Madrid buying churros – fritters of fried dough – for his mother and sister. Then he spends some time with his brother, who has a learning disability.

This is the story of a family man who wishes for a better life for his loved ones. But he has no perspective. And these are the Spanish ’90s bling-bling years, when bankers made the covers of society’s gossip magazines.

So José takes a tremendous shortcut and quickly climbs the narco-food chain through relentless ambition, extraordinary luck, his infiltration of the rich and famous, occasional ruthless violence, and adept use of alternative uses, as Episode 1 memorably captures for a car’s cigarette lighter.

As part of the multi-year co-production deal between Movistar Plus and Telemundo, announced at NATPE Miami 2019, “El Inmortal” has a new advantage compared to the first series of the deal, “Tell Me Who I Am.”

The violence when it erupts is brutal, its details vivid, such as when José watches unperturbed as dogs eat the dismembered remains of two victims, a hand and some entrails.

These are sex scenes in which José consumes the desire for revenge on a world that gave him a tough deal in life and satiates his cravings for a “pija”, a member of Madrid’s wealthy upper class. Episodes end individually, as if the fictional world continues even though audience access to it ends.

Directed by David Ulloa (“The Plague,” “The Hunt: Monteperdido”) and Rafa Montesinos (“Parot”), and written by Diego Sotelo and David Moreno, who previously worked on the Bambu-produced “Fariña” and “On Death Row”, “El Inmortal” is a classic mob thriller but with a social underbelly, the life story of a man looking to quickly bridge the social divide. The implicit question is why he had no legal alternatives.

diversity spoke to series creator, industry veteran and DLO boss José Manuel Lorenzo ahead of the Cannes series.

What made you decide to do the series?

It is always a question of several factors. One was the era. I experienced it in Madrid. It was tremendously exciting, a time when the nights seemed endless. What I wanted to show was the person behind a lot of this Madrid scene.

The greatest appeal of “El Inmortal” is its contradictory, complex central character. could you comment

The real breakthrough in creating El Inmortal was discovering its central real-life character. He’s a principled man. This is the story of a man, his family and friends. Everything he achieved he did with people who were close to him. Like Don Vito and then Michael in The Godfather, you like him no matter how murderous he is. He is charismatic, determined, determined but very down to earth. “El Inmortal” also addresses a man who didn’t know how to do anything else.

Did you get in touch with the real character?

Yes. I read an article in 2018: “Yo, el Miami Inmortal, Confieso” [by Javier Negre]and started talking seriously to Juan Carlos [Peña, the real-life name of the founder of Los Miamis]. As I spoke to him, I began to understand his world and how I could construct a series inspired by it, although I fictionalized a lot. The more he talked, the more intrigued I became.

Much of what he does is almost innocent. José doesn’t seem to get it, although his Mexican girlfriend and best friend warn him about the deep water he’s going to get into if he starts his own drug business.

Total. Los Miami could only rise to power if they did. Later, the DEA minutes meant there was much more control over the cocaine business, its ties to the police and the political class.

A participant in the Canneseries competition is almost expected to propose an innovative direction. In “El Inmortal” one such example is the finale of each episode….

DP David Omedes, who worked with me on Tell Me Who I Am, gave the series a very handheld ’90s feel made up mostly of long shots chasing the characters. Diego Sotelo is a great screenwriter and so is David Moreno. Each episode is structured to reach a specific ending, a set point where the viewer looks through a keyhole as the life of the series unfolds. It is as if the viewer becomes a voyeur. And the key song in each episode comes up again: “Jesucristo Garcia” from Episode 1 or “Pedro Navaja” from Episode 2. Each song is designed for a specific moment. One reason I love Martin Scorsese is his use of songs, for example by the Rolling Stones. Movistars El Inmortal with Banijay’s DLO Telemundo Streaming Studios

Charles Jones

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