Mario Conde in Paris

The character created by Leonardo Padura is premiering its somersault from literature to TV and cinema.

Foto: Tomada del blog personal del actor

The first public presentation of the Spanish-German-Cuban miniseries “Las cuatroestaciones” (The Four Seasons) in Havana, whose principal character is the tormented investigator Mario Conde, created by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, took place at the 7th  International Series Mania Festival, held in Paris April 15-24.

The protagonist of “Havana Blue”, “Havana Gold”, “Havana Red” and “Havana Black”, among other novels of the Conde series, did a double somersault from literature to TV and cinema by Spanish director Félix Viscarret, based on the script written by Padura and his wife LucíaLópez Coll.


The miniseries produced by Spain’s Tornasol Films and Germany’s Nadcon was fundamentally shot in the city of Havana, while renowned Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría was responsible for bringing to life and giving a face to the character that many consider is the most popular of contemporary Cuban literature.


As to the series’ format, a four-chapter 90-minute version was made as well as another lasting 45 minutes so that they can be broadcast in the both times. In addition, a longer version of “Havana Gold” was completed for cinema.


During his brief stay in Paris to back the premier of the series in the important Parisian event, Leonardo Padura was accompanied by the executive producer, MarielaBusuievsky, and by Félix Viscarret, who reiterated his respect for Cuban literature.


The Spanish director said that when he assumed making the miniseries his aim was to seek a visualisation capable of transmitting the profound attraction of a city like Havana and to use the rich tradition of film noir. The result has been a sort of “Caribbean noir” that does not betray what is essential in Padura’s novels.


Meanwhile, the Cuban writer is more than satisfied with the result of what he has been able to see on the screen until now, and has praised the work of Viscarret and of the actors, especially that of Jorge Perugorría, who assumed the difficult challenge of portraying a character that already had its own life in the imagination of many readers.


The Series Mania Festival has become one of the most important events for TV serials, which is why the series that will later catapult to fame, as occurred in the case of the U.S. “True Detective”, make their first presentation to the public and to the market there.


This year the event opened its doors with the projection of the first episode of the U.S. series “Vinyl”, by Martin Scorsese, and eight series made in France, Israel, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Argentina, Belgium and Australia participated in the competitive section.


Finally the jury presided over by David Chase, creator of the acclaimed “Sopranos”, awarded the prize to the Argentinean series “El marginal”, by Sebastián Ortega.


According to Leonardo Padura, the participation and especially the selection to be presented to the public at the Parisian Festival is in itself a great recognition for the series, since it allows for greater visibility among the professionals of the genre on an international level and before the public interested in discovering new proposals.


On the other hand, the promotion that the presence in an event of such a magnitude can generate is important, said the writer. “It is a world where the levels of great quality have really been reached and it is extremely difficult to gain access to that level,” he concluded.


Padura’s literature, be it in its detective or historical aspects, has as central theme contemporary Cuban society, though he has been able to go beyond the national borders. In 2012 the writer was awarded in Cuba the National Prize for Literature, and in 2015 he won the Princess of Asturias Prize for Literature. The majority of his novels have been translated into more than 20 languages and the arrival of his iconic detective to cinema and TV can contribute to a greater dissemination of his work on an international level.


The premier of “Havana Gold” is expected in movie theatres in Spain for next September, on the same date in which it will make its debut in the San Sebastián Film Festival.


It is without a doubt a daring bet that has among its principal attractions the awaited incarnation of the popular Mario Conde, a character that in its 25 years of existence has himself lived many of the hopes, joys and frustrations of the island’s Cubans. (2016)

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