Turkish Drama with Latin Flavour

Starring a Colombian female character, María and Mustafa stands as one of the bit new titles of the season in Turkey, where ATV also continues to find excellent results with the new seasons of The Ottoman and Hercai.

Although co-productions between Latin America and Turkey continue to be difficult to translate from paper to reality, ATV Distribution is offering an excellent alternative with Maria and Mustafa, a traditional Turkish drama with a unique element: the main female character is a Colombian woman based in Istanbul.

The character of María, played by actress Jessica May, born in Paraná and living in Turkey since the age of 15, is revolutionary for traditional Turkish dramas and her existence does not hide her direct relationship with the success of the genre in the region.

“This is the first Turkish series with a female lead from Latin America,” Emre Görentas, Deputy Sales Manager for North and South America and MENA at ATV Distribution, said to ttvnews.

“She is a woman from Colombia and the story testifies to her love relationship with a Turkish man. There is great interest from Latin America in this story, because there is no other Turkish series with a Latin American character,” he added.

The pandemic did not allow the production arm of the ATV channel to fulfill its objective of filming some scenes in Colombia: “We were working on this project for a year and we planned to shoot some scenes in Colombia, but the pandemic forced us to shoot it entirely in Turkey.”

María and Mustafa is broadcast on Sundays, in prime time, and according to Görentas, its rating has been increasing consistently. However, Latin American viewers should be patient, as few episodes have been released on the ATV screen.

“The series is very new, we have only a few episodes on the air,” said the executive. “We are in negotiations with some Latin American countries, but in the region Turkish series are broadcast daily, while here we do it weekly, so they need more episodes. We are hoping to have more episodes to dub”.

As happened to many other network, the forced halt in production affected the ATV calendar, which also had to freeze work on two other of their successes: The Ottoman and Hercai.

In the case of The Ottoman, the pandemic cut the development of the first season short. “Locally, the first season of The Ottoman worked out spectacularly,” said Görentas. “It was the number one show on Wednesday nights, in prime time, but due to the pandemic we had to stop production earlier than expected and for the first season we only had 85 episodes.”

“Now we begin with the second season, we are producing and broadcasting it weekly, it is leading again on Wednesday nights,” he said. “We have started negotiations with Latin America because now we have reached the number of episodes they need.”

Hercai, meanwhile, needs no introduction. The series was a huge success in Chile, where its first two seasons aired, and it’s on the air today in Panama and Puerto Rico, with other deals already closed, waiting to air.

As Görentas points out, the fact that Hercai is in its third season is a clear sign of its potential: “The Turkish market has seven main channels and each one has a different series every night. The competition in Turkey is very strong and many of the TV series do not even reach a second season. What Hercai has achieved, reaching a third, speaks to the local success of the series.”

The series worked remarkably in Chile, where TVN planned to broadcast the three seasons in a row, but Covid-19 got in the way. However, success in trans-Andean territory is an excellent sign of what Hercai is capable of giving.

“Certainly the local success of a product is very important for international buyers, but as for Latin America, buyers want to see numbers in the region,” Görentas said.

“Since we launched Hercai in Turkey we have had a lot of interest in Latin America and started negotiations, but after the success in Chile, the demand increased significantly,” he added.