In a move aimed at addressing the paucity of Afro-Latino content, Sony Pictures TV (SPT) Latin America has announced a TV series project in development with Colombian producer-director Diana Bustamante, who most recently produced Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria,” starring Tilda Swinton, winner of the Cannes Jury Prize this year.
“Memoria” has just been selected to represent Colombia at the Academy Awards’ Best International Feature Film category.
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Titled “Sanyu,” the original bilingual and bicultural Afro-Latino thriller marks Bustamante’s first television project, and touches on universal themes of connecting to one’s heritage and discovering oneself.
Said Nestor Hernandez, VP of content development in Latin America and U.S. Hispanic for SPT International Production: “We’ve been focusing on elevating unique voices and stories in the region and Diana’s immense creative talent is a huge asset as we tell this original story about Afro-Latino heritage in Latin America.”
“Such stories are rarely ever told with this level of visibility and more importantly through this transnational yet universal lens,” he added.
Aimed at immersing audiences in the stunning beauty and complexities of Afro-Latino culture and the harsh realities of the Colombian Pacific, “Sanyú” turns on Hamilton, a paramedic in medical school who is drawn back to his homeland after the violent murder of his mother.
Hamilton leaves Baltimore, where he’s lived for 20 years, and returns to Buenaventura, a port city in the Colombian Pacific to attend his mother’s funeral. In this place, where traditions and witchcraft intersect with the underworld of corrupt political mafias and criminals, Hamilton will try to unearth the truth behind his mother’s murder, at the risk of his own life.
“It’s incredible to be working with Sony to bring Sanyú, one of the greatest creative challenges of my career, to life,” said Bustamante, adding: “The creative freedom we’ve been given allows for great opportunity. We have gone through extensive research that allows us to enter other realities including some that may be less obvious and richer.”
“The region is intensely complex; This is a work of many details, flavors, tensions, and characters,” she continued.
Colombia has produced few films or TV shows about the Afro-Latino experience despite its sizeable population of African descent, especially along its northwest Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In film, Jhonny Hendrix’s 2012 drama “Choco” was hailed as among the first to be made.
Bustamante has produced the works of some of Colombia’s most acclaimed filmmakers including Oscar-nominated Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”) on his 2009 Cannes entry “Wind Journeys,” Cesar Augusto Acevedo, whose “Land and Shade” won multiple awards at the 2015 Cannes Festival; and Oscar Ruiz Navia, best known for “Crab Trap” (Fipresci prize, Berlin, 2010) and “Los Mushrooms” (Special Jury Prize, Locarno 2014). She was also the artistic director of the Cartagena Film Festival from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that stint, she headed the film division of Caracol TV from 2008 to 2012.
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