Paola Suárez, producer of the breakout Argentine mob drama “La Chica que limpia,” died on Sunday after suddenly collapsing in Córdoba, Argentina, at the age of 41.
Her death comes just months after Fox gave a series greenlight in May to “The Cleaning Lady,” a U.S. version of “La Chica que limpia” created by Miranda Kwok, which is scheduled to bow as a midseason entry in the 2021-22 season. “La Muchacha que limpia,” a Mexican makeover produced by WarnerMedia Latin America and BTF Media, aired on HBO Latin America from June 25.
Sporting glasses and a huge grin, Suárez embodied the huge energies of a young generation of Latin American film producers who took Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur by storm from its second edition in 2010, turning a sales market into an informal international co-production meet attracting thousands.
Suárez didn’t have far to travel, coming from Córdoba, Argentina’s second city, to court production in 2010 on her second feature film, Argentine helmer-scribe Inés María Barrionuevo’s “Atlántida.”
Suarez’s early career was bulwarked by the growth of production funding in Córdoba, whose film-TV scene she aimed to galvanize, making shorts from 2005, launching Oruga Films, then Germina Films, which became Jaque Content in 2012.
But her ambitions were not at all provincial.
“From early development, we were interested in inserting ‘Atlántida’ in international financing systems. It’s not just about money, but access to European festivals, and the development of the director and my production house,” Suárez told Variety in 2011, as she tied down Edgard Tenembaum’s Paris-based Tu Vas Voir, producer of Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries,” as an associate producer.
Suárez’s achievement, however, was not just to build a film career rolling off local funding but to make the far more difficult transition into major hit international TV series. From the get-go, her large strategic sense led her to twin movie and TV production, producing regional TV show “Eden,” which bowed from 2011, and “Córdoba Castings” in 2012.
A rookie in 2010, five years later she was a pioneer, shooting from April 2015 in Córdoba “La Chica que limpia” when crime dramas were a rarity for its regional production. Criminals of the depravity of some of its motley mobsters raised the bar on organized heinousness on Argentine TV. In Argentina, it won a Martín Fierro Federal Award for best series and was pre-selected for the International Emmy Awards in 2018.
In 2018, in what Variety described as an “inspired strategic move,” Suárez confirmed she had launched Jaque Content México as production sky-rocketed in Mexico, propelled by Netflix and Amazon and newer OTT players.
“Our growth strategy is the creation of content and the co-creation, co-production and co-financing with producers in other countries with OTT platforms,” Suárez said.
By 2021, Jaque Content had established offices in the U.S. and was driving into IP – teaming with Mónica Lozano, producer of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s feature debut “Amores perros,” to adapt Argentine bestseller “Záfiros en la piel” – and into genre, co-producing “Vurdalak Blood,” from Argentine horror auteur Santiago Fernández Calvete. Jaque Content also co-produced Tatiana Huezo’s Cannes standout “Prayers for the Stolen.”
Her projects run from horror movie “Fátima,” to series “The Hate Farm,” an allegorical cyber war thriller; ethno-gastronomy doc series “Mother Dough”; “En el nombre del pueblo,” about political communication; and “Jaguares en la luz,” now shooting in Brazil and Mexico.
The characters of many of Suárez films and series are strong women seeking to define their own destiny, even in a world of male psychopaths, such as “La Chica que limpia.” Suárez achieved that in the more benign world of film and TV. She did so with little fuss, and her large grin. Her energy was contagious and exciting.
She is survived by her longtime partner Virginia Juárez.
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