Chilean Movie Vet Gabriela Sobarzo Talks Prime Video Hit ’S.O.S. Mamis 2: Mosquita Muerta,’ the Streamer’s First Spanish-Language Movie Franchise

Chilean cinema continues to see traction on Prime Video with “S.O.S. Mamis 2: Mosquita Muerta” bowing Aug. 2 to become the most-watched movie of any nationality on the streamer in Chile.

The comedy, available worldwide to 240 territories, builds on the success of the original, “S.O.S. Mamis,” the most seen title on Prime Video in Chile for the two weeks after its launch in March 2022.

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The trailer for “S.O.S. Mamis 2: Mosquita Muerta” notched up 7.4 million views, suggesting interest in and outside Chile.

Written by Mirella Granucci and Aníbal Herrera, the second instalment of the raucous comedy franchise sees the unlikely friends reuniting to welcome Daniela (Karla Melo) and her son into the Saint Michael’s School fold.

The band of mothers, made up of Trini (Paz Bascuñán), Luna (Loreto Aravena), Milagros (Tamara Acosta), Clarita (Jenny Cavallo) and Julia (Mane Swett), starts to slowly unravel as the new addition proves more than they bargained for, they reluctantly reach for their empathy and implore their wits to come to an understanding.

Multi-talented industry vet Gabriela Sobarzo is again at the helm, directing the film with an expansive knowledge of Chilean cinema, from art-house to mainstream. Among more than 72 films in her arsenal, she boasts script supervision credits on Keanu Reeves-fronted “Knock, Knock,” directed by Eli Roth, and Pablo Larraín’s award-winning debut title “Fuga.” Outside the “S.O.S. Mamis” franchise, she’s directed lucrative streaming titles “Cosas de Hombres” and “Malcriados.”

Produced by Miguel Asensio at the Tiki Group, who also backed Sobarzo’s ViX+ hit “Malcriados,” the concept took shape after it appeared as an Instagram series based on group chats and has unfurled into a theater production, two films, a book, another series available on Prime Video and an upcoming podcast Sobarzo is fronting, focusing on Trini’s relationship and the therapy sessions the couple attend to revive their passions.

The rapid-fire modern-day comedy, distributed by Alexandra Galvis at Latin American film group BF Films, proves that a clever concept can drive an idea from the humble beginning through to far bigger leagues.

On the heels of the film’s continuing gains, Sobarzo and Galvis spoke with Variety about the project, the allure of Chilean cinema and keys to a prosperous movie franchise.

How do you explain the success of Chilean films on Prime Video?

Galvis: Chile is a small country. I think it’s always been in the DNA of Chilean filmmakers to tell stories that resonate abroad. Before, there was a lack of practical support, that is, you made films for the cinema, and the road was longer. Through a medium like Amazon, that muscle that exists in Chile to tell universal stories – because our market demands it, and we know how to do it – now has a physical platform.

Sobarzo: Chile is already on the map worldwide. We’ve won an Oscar and won in Berlin, with more auteur, dramatic genres. That’s allowed us to get into other genres people are interested in, we can finally make a blockbuster. That’s kind of new for us, but not surprising. I think it’s the natural path for Chilean cinema. And I think we’re probably at the starting point, not me in particular, but many directors.

Are there another factors at work? 

Sobarzo: Yes. Also, now women can direct beyond documentaries. Historically, women in Chile were documentary directors. Now, we’re not relegated to that. We’re doing fiction, we can do horror, and we can do comedy. That door’s been opened. It’s interesting to see a woman’s point of view on horror, a thriller, even a film that talks about worlds we have no idea about yet.

Over the years, this has been hard work for all filmmakers and those of us who work behind the camera from our trenches, in the background. It’s been a very logical path that our cinema has finally taken. I believe it allows us to share our diverse experiences and for these unique and universal beings who are the directors to make auteur and blockbuster films, festival-winning films.

The children in the film aren’t professional actors yet wise beyond their years. Can you speak to directing younger talent and how they achieved such renderings of their roles?

Sobarzo: I’ve made many films with children, it’s very difficult. But with these children in particular, two factors helped me as director, many of them were also children of the actresses, and I listened to the children first.We wanted to promote and encourage their views and give them this freshness, this relaxation so they could express themselves calmly. It’s very important to deal with children on a one-on-one basis, value listening to them, explaining to them, and reaching that connection between what I want to say and what they want to. I think these children were a real success. It’s interesting to see how a child, ten years of age, sees the world; children have powerful opinions, which, for a woman of 50 like me, is revealing.

The fact that they weren’t actors made it easier. With kids who are actors, there’s a level of nervousness that inhibits them a bit. Children who aren’t actors don’t work in pursuit of the camera, but according to what they see. That natural demeanor is infinitely greater. I think that gives the film an edge.

What is they to creating a robust movie franchise? 

Sobarzo: The key is the story. But also important are the actors, the level of confidence you have, the rapport with the actors and the handling of their characters. It’s also vital to have a great producer. The expertise of my producer, Miguel Asensio, a producer who has vast experience with franchises, is unmatched. This expertise has opened the door for us, not only in Chile but also in Mexico and now in Spain. Working side by side works, and the confidence that comes from having a producer that you know and trust, this mix is what generates the ability to conceive or create a film that will work as a franchise.

Galvis:  In the end, you don’t follow the story so much as the characters, it’s like what you do with a Marvel film, you follow that superhero, that’s how you present it. It’s the perfect mix between a production company that can do very massive things and the capacity of a director who can work well in various formats. You realize that it’s not just the story, but it’s this very well-crafted franchise.

Can you speak a bit to what draws you to Gabriela’s projects?

Galvis: She’s been involved with super contemplative films. She’s an auteur filmmaker, and then you look at her resume, and five projects she’s been involved in are among the five most viewed films in the history of Chilean cinema. It’s an atypical mix. She’s someone who enjoys the craft of cinema. When you see her on set, the way she works with the actors, she finds her own way to create a relationship. I haven’t seen anyone who works like that with actors forming those relationships. It’s a very comfortable set, and, in that sense, I think she also brings something of her feminine essence to each project.

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