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New Abner Benaim Film Projects. Abner Benaim, one of Panama’s leading helmers, whose 2014 doc “Invasion,” about the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, was the country’s 2016 Academy Award entry, is currently preparing a 13-part TV series “El Presidente,” as well as a new fiction feature “Plaza Catedral”, while completing his 90-minute music documentary “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name,” which he plans to release at the end of 2017.
All three projects are aimed at the international market: “I don’t believe in making films just for Panama,” says Benaim. “It’s not feasible economically. It’s too small a market. You need to aim at least for Latin America.”
Benaim is particularly interested by the contrast between rich and poor in Latin America, and explores this question from multiple perspectives, including crime drama in “El Presidente,” a thriller-drama in “Plaza,” and music in the “Ruben Blades” documentary.
“El Presidente” is co-penned by Benaim and Papus Von Saenger, who also co-wrote his first feature, “Chance.” The pilot and synopsis for the first two seasons are written. The project is a co-production between Benaim’s company Apertura Films, and Panama-based Vertical Media, owned by Carlos Garcia de Paredes, one of the producers of 2016 boxing bio pic, “Hands of Stone.”
The serie is aimed at pay TV and VOD platforms such as Netflix and is based on politicians in the region who run mafio-cracies.
“It’s a fun show, with lots of dark comedy,” said Benaim. “But it’s also got a very sharp edge, using comedy to point out the injustices that abound and the absurdity of what has become the norm for the political system in Latin America.”
Benaim says they are currently in talks with possible partners for the Latin American market who believe in original content and are ready to support a project that could generate controversy – “Although it’s all fiction, the fact that it’s inspired by real situations and people scares some people away,” he commented.
This will be Benaim’s first major TV series and he said that it represents a huge challenge, but because of the high interest in producing TV series he hopes to create enthusiasm because of the material and the way that he plans to treat it.