Fluency Banking on Telenovelas On The Big Screen


Edy Ganem Stars in “Trading Places” Film

By Bel Hernandez

Telenovela fever is in full swing.  On television you have the CW’s Jane the Virgin, which is an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela Juana La Virgen.  That has been such a hit that NBC just green lit Eva Longoria’s Telenovela pilot about the behind the scenes antics of a telenovela star.  And now, Fluency, Telemundo’s indie film distribution arm, is taking telenovelas to the big screen in their aptly named film Ana Maria in Novela Land which stars Edy Ganem (Devious Maids), Luis Guzman (We’re The Millers, Boogie Nights, Carlito’s Way) , Nestor Serrano (Dexter, The Money Pit, Lethal Weapon 2), Dyana Ortelli (Luminarias, La Bamba, Three Amigos), and the late Elizabeth Pena (Rush Hour, Lone Star, La Bamba).  Ana Maria in Novela Land releases on February 27th in select theaters.

The familiar “Trading Places” premise takes a new twist when a telenovela obsessed young woman is zapped into her current telenovela right as it’s nearing conclusion.

Ana Maria (Ganem) is a typical young woman, who switches places with her favorite telenovela star, Ariana Tomosa (Ganem). As she journeys inside a world of seemingly limitless opportunities in “Novela Land,” things get heated during a love affair with a wealthy businessman (Juan Pablo Gamboa) and his younger, sexy son (Michael Steger). Meanwhile, Ariana is forced to deal with the harsh realities of living in Los Angeles with an over-protective but loving family. As each of these women navigate their new lives, they come to the realization that love and true faith in themselves is all they really needed to have the life they dreamed of.

At first Ana Maria thinks she is dreaming, but when she realizes she is stuck in a “telenovela vortex” she proceeds to “mess with the story” by spilling the telenovela plot to her loves and her nanny. Meanwhile the villain played by Luis Guzman, is well…the perfect vile villain who double crosses even the double crossers. Ariana has not treated her devoted housekeeper/nanny, played beautifully by Dyana Ortelli very well. Ana Maria decides she should be liberated from and proceeds to tell her what she must to. All this does not compute well in Novela land. As we near the conclusion of the telenovela, there is a price to pay when Ana tries to have the telenovela go her way. She ends up alone and – dare we say – dead! But of course there are twists and turns in the reveal that will make your head and make you smile if not laugh out loud.

The late Elizabeth Pena brings, as usual, a nuanced performance to a role that could easily just have been set dressing while Nestor Serrano plays the understanding dad to a T. Ganem does a very believable job playing both the diva and Ana. Legendary Mexican telenovela actress Lupita Tovar makes a grand entrance during the telenovela reveal.

A fun film with the only star power can be said is brought by Guzman and Pena with the combined filmography and experience both these actors bring to the table. However, Ganem holds her own in this film, and has the opportunity to step out of the shadow of her better known Devious Maids co-stars.

Director Georgina Garcia Riedel directing of the cast, has enabled the film to successful navigate from film to telenovela – with just enough of the stereotypical telenovela melodramatic acting to not get in the way.

Audiences will enjoy the film, if they know it’s out there. The problem with getting audiences to come out and see independent films targeted at Latinos is that they usually don’t know they exist. Indie distributors like Fluency who is distributing the film, need to spend a lot more money for advertising and marketing to get Latinos audience to go see their films. You can’t say Latinos don’t support if they don’t know the film even exists.

Directed by: Georgina Garcia Riedel (The

Written by Georgina Garcia Riedel & Jose Nestor Marquez

Cast: Edy Canem, Luis Guzman, Elizabeth Pena, Nestor Serrano, Dyana Ortelli, Michael Steger, Lupita Tovar

Producers: Steak House, Zack O’Brien, Andrew Gernhard, Shane O’Brien

Produced by Synthetic Cinema International

Distributed by: Fluency

88 Minutes in English & Spanish


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