Portuguese TV: Titles to Track at Conecta Fiction

TOLEDO, Spain — Less than a decade ago, the number of international premium series, beyond its telenovelas, coming out of Portugal each year could be counted on one hand.  Following, 20 titles from Portugal being moved at this week’s Conecta Fiction & Entertainment where Portugal is one of its Focus Countries. Wide raging and ambitious, the titles confirm Portugal’s TV revolution.

“Aquarium,” (West Coast, Portugal)

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From the Azores-based doc producer West Coast, driving into fiction from 2023, a social dramedy inspired by the 2003 best-seller “Tomorrow at the Same Time, Diary of a Portuguese Stripper).” Leila, 30, abandons days as a marine biologist for nights as the first Portuguese stripper at the prestigious Medusa Club. Written by Brazil’s Marina Schneider, “‘Aquarium’ questions what it is to be a woman today, through the critical and oneiric eyes of two young Brazilian authors,” say directors Stella Carneiro, writer of Marcelo Gomes’ “Joaquim,” and Portugal’s Saul Neves and Virgílio Ferreira.

“Azul,” (SIC, Portugal)

Created and directed by two-time Portugal Academy Sophia Award nominee Pedro Varela and produced by Blanche Filmes and Opto, this dystopian drama is currently in post-production, with its first episodes planned for delivery later this year. Set in a world where no whales have been seen in the wild for more than a year, Olivia, the daughter of a famous biologist, joins a group of activists working to bring whales back to the seas. The show will use adventure and dystopian codes to deliver an environmental message that is informative and entertaining in equal parts. SIC will distribute in Portugal and work with local partners to get the series out in other territories.

“Cacau,” (TVI, Plural Entertainment, Portugal)

Created and written by Maria João Costa “Payback”) and directed by Edgar Miranda (“South”), “Cacau” bowed on Jan. 15 on TVI to a standout 19.5% share. Robustly solidly Onza Distribution, including a ground-breaking deal with Mediaset España, it follows Cacau, a young chocolatier, as she navigates love and family complications while trying to achieve her dreams in the beautiful cocoa plantations of Brazil. “‘Cacau’ can be described as a ‘family saga romance drama,’ the series mixes elements of romance, intense family secrets, and personal ambition,” says Margarida V. Pereira, TVI head of acquisitions and international programming.

“Dogpack,” (Arquipélago Filmes, RTP, Prime Video, Portugal)

Chosen for 2024’s Berlinale Series Market Selects, and the second most-watched series on pubcaster main channel RTP1 in the last five years, “Dogpack” marks the third series from creator-writer-producer Edgar Medina after the trailblazing premium “South” (2019), a Berlinale Copro Series Project, and “Natural Law” (2022). Executive produced by Joni Sighvatsson (“Valhalla Rising”), “Dogpack” is a spin-off from the noirish “South,” tighter, a character drama turning on “South’s” Matilha and Mafalda, as they try to escape his criminal past.  

“Felizardo,” (Animatlántico Filmworks, TVI, Portugal)

“After being rejected by his long-term girlfriend who disappears without explanation, an ordinary and methodical man finds himself immersed in the chaotic underworld of illegal gambling and embarks on an unexpected journey of self-discovery in search of happiness,” the synopsis runs. A contemporary dramedy from Animatlántico, created by created by Eduardo Queiroz and Lucas Millions Dutra and directed by Dutra. “Felizardo” is designed to be shown on social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, etc.) and also on streaming platforms, TV, or cinema framed as 17 vertical format episodes of five minutes and, in horizontal, three episodes of 45 minutes and a feature film of 110 minutes.

“Gisberta, Life and Death of a Trans Woman,” (Volf Entertainment, Ultravioleta, Brazil, Portugal)

From Volf Entertainment, backed by investment company Lisbon Ventures, and headed by Lionel Vieira, a driver of broader audience films and TV in Portugal, whether blockbuster movie remake O Pátio das Cantigas or RTP prestige series “The Crime of Father Amaro.” Vieira returns with a four-episode true crime tale about the torture and murder in 2006 of Gilberta Salce by 14 adolescents in Oporto, who were protected from prosecution by Portugal’s Catholic Church. Selected for Pitch Copro Series. At Conecta Fiction’s Docudrama Series Pitch.

“Finisterra,” (Take It Easy, TVI, Portugal)

Producer of Oscar-shortlisted LGBTQ+ live action short “An Avocado Pit,” boarded by Elliot Page, Take It Easy has just entered post-production on “Finisterra,” co-produced by Wild Fang Films ( Luxembourg) and Pixable Studios ( Germany). First prize winner in the Writing and Script Development Competition organized by Portuguese film agency ICA sponsored by Netflix, the coming of age WWII tale, turns on a young teen orphan accused of conjuring the devil in the isolated town of Aljezur. Directed by emerging talents Guilherme Branquinho and Leone Niel, and borrowing from several narrative genres — drama, adventure, history, supernatural, horror, war – says Take It Easy’s Lydia Tisserand.

“Grape Harvest,” (Fado Filmes, Gullane Portugal, Brazil)

Originally a film, “Grape Harvest” is also being imagined as a five-part series exploring the tangled dynamics between social classes in the microcosm of a vineyard, where workers and landowners exist side-by-side. Director Luís Galvão Teles is attending Conecta to seek out partnerships with European co-producers to enhance the show’s production values and global reach. He will also meet with international distributors to find broadcast partners for the series when it is finished. “Grape Harvest” has already benefited from support from the ICA and national broadcaster RTP in Portugal and Ancine’s Luso-Brazilian Protocol in Brazil.

“Human Nature,” (Glaz, Portugal, Boat Rocker, Canada)

Glaz’s entry into English-language production, created and exec produced by “3%” head writer Denis Nielsen with Joe Mallozzi (“Stargate Atlantis”) attached as showrunner. A fantasy mystery, set at an Azores surfing event whose competitors suddenly begin to disappear. Part of a fullsome slate of titles steered by Carolina Alckmin from Brazil and Portugal from Glaz, one of the fastest-growing outfits on the block.   

“Irreversible,” (RTP, Caracol Studios)

Picked up by Yellow Affair after screened at 2024’s MipDrama, a crime drama created-directed by Bruno Gascon (“Carga,” “Shadow”), the upcoming “Irreversible” is one of many Portuguese pubcaster RTP titles at Conecta Fiction but one of the biggest. To be  presented by RTP via a trailer at the forum, it turns on tormented psychologist Júlia Mendes and inspector Pedro Sousa attempting to solve the brutal homicide, of a young girl in a coastal town. “A compelling blend of social drama and crime/thriller,” says Gascón.

“Lume,” (Setemedia, Coral Vision Europa, Spain, Portugal)

Announced in 2022, but now with pubcaster RTP (Portugal), TV Galicia (Spain) and streaming service Max (Portugal and Spain) on board, a co-production between two companies – Spain’s Setemedia, Portugal’s Coral Vision Europa –aiming to grow in international markets. An “eco-thriller,” says Coral General Manager Bruno de Lima Santos, scheduled to shoot from July, set at a hamlet on the Portugal-Galicia border as a forest fire blazes and journalist Lucía investigates. “Through an absorbing and enigmatic atmosphere, the plot explores the economic interests that conceal the true causes of the forest fires, providing an accurate portrayal of the rural environment in the 21st century,” says Lima Santos.


“New Hunting Tales,” (“Novas Narrativas,” Many Takes, Galo Bravo, Portugal)

Produced by Galo Bravo, behind life-in-lockdown doc “Um Mundo en pausa,” and Many Takes, also from Portugal, a seven-part anthology fiction series turning of the pursuit of a sense of identity and belonging by differing people of African descent in Portugal. Tales range from dystopian post civil war sci-fi, to a dark humour fast food thriller, to an interracial romantic comedy or a road movie through Africa searching for peace in the heart. “The possibilities are endless. Why not gather seven Afro-descendents from Spain and tell their stories? Or seven from France?” asks creator Luis Almeida.

New Hunting Tales
New Hunting Tales

“Past Waters,” (“Aguas Passadas,” Caracol Studios, ON Producciones, Portugal-Spain)

A Lisbon Noir, as a sub-commissioner, working in a rain-drenched capitol, races against the clock to solve two brutal teen murders. Created by popular novelist-screenwriter João Tordo, a scribe on Netflix’s “Turn of the Tide,” adapting his own novel, and directed by Bruno Gascon (“Irreversible”), produced by Caracol Studios, behind MipDrama 2024 title “Irreversible,” and co-produced by Spain’s TV ON Producciones. Another Copro Series title, “‘Past Waters’ is more than a thriller; it’s a journey into the depths of human complexity, blending Portuguese identity with global intrigue,” says producer Joana Domigues.

Past Waters
Past Waters

“A Place in the Sun,” (SPi, Portugal)

From SP-i, behind Portugal’s first Netflix original series “Glória,” plus “Codex 632,” with Globoplay and RTP and “Vanda,” with La Panda and Legendary. A second chance drama about a singer who is washed up at the age of 35, “this is a very modern musical, not about a young girl chasing her dream but a woman who has tried and failed, and has to decide whether to abandon her dream or fight to the end,” says Pedro Lopes, SPi content director and executive producer.

“The Sleeping Cell,” (SPi, Portugal)

A second SPi series at Conecta Fiction pitch sessions, a political thriller. From bestselling espionage novelist Nuno Nepomuceno and Miguel Simal, a writer on “Dry Water” and “Glória,” a professor and writer battle an international conspiracy responsible for a terrorist attack in Lisbon, and the murder of Portugal’s Prime Minister.

“Star Sailors,” (David & Golias, Portugal)

Described as a “gripping historical adventure drama,” now in post, and ready for delivery October/November, directed by David & Golias’ CEO Fernando Vendrell, behind RTP hit “3 Women.” Gonçalo Waddington, star of Cannes best director winner “Grand Tour,” plays Sacadura Cabral, in a series recounting the daring exploits of the first aviator to cross the South Atlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in 2022. “‘Star Sailors’ combines epic adventure with historical authenticity, exploring themes of technology, nature and globalization” intertwinig “personal and scientific endeavors, presenting a hero’s journey through captivating visuals and sound design,” says Vendrell.

Star Sailors
Star Sailors

“Starstruck,” (Shine Iberia Portugal)

The sixth adaptation of Banijay UK’s original unscripted music competition series, “Starstruck” follows versions in the U.K., Chile, Bulgaria, Belgium and Denmark. The show turns on a trio of regular people with exceptional talent who team up to prepare live performances against rival groups. In the end, only one team can come out of the grand finale as winners, earning a life-changing cash prize in the process. “The Portuguese version will have the added excitement of live performances from the exceptional talent of the contestants, which will make for captivating, emotive and all-round spectacular TV,” says Banijay CCO Lucas Green.

“Trigger Agents,” (Ukbar Filmes, Portugal)

Created by veteran TV writer José Pinto Carneiro (“Mar Salgado”), “Trigger Agents” is a heist thriller with a sense of humor. It proposes to tell the “true” story of two undercover agents involved in the infamous Tancos arsenal robbery of 2017 when a Brazilian arms dealer was captured after stealing weapons, all of which were eventually recovered by the government. Pitched as a “raw and tough noir series,” the show will also lean on the charisma of its two leads to create empathy in the audience and prevent the story from getting too dark. According to Ukbar, it’s “an astonishing story that many people want to keep secret.”

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