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Somos. - What We Know So Far

If you're referring to a new Netflix television show from James Schamus, don't forget to add the period at the end. "In English, the phrase 'Somos' requires two words: 'We are' or 'We exist,'" the filmmaker and creator of "Somos." explains in a statement for Netflix. "But in Spanish, one word says it all. I asked if we could add a period after the title so that it reads as an assertion, and not just a title."

The drama series focuses on the 2011 massacre by the Los Zetas drug cartel in the Mexican border town of Allende, which was the result of an act by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The former Focus Features CEO, who is known for producing and writing Ang Lee projects such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" based the project on a ProPublica report from journalist Ginger Thompson called "How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico."

The story itself is fiction, portraying the events that led to the massacre and the lives of the people who were irrevocably changed by what Schamus calls "that DEA operation gone wrong. "In telling the story, we have two core objectives: to make visible the people our culture often works to erase from our perceptions and memories, and to affirm our co-existence with them," Schamus said, explaining the title. Here's what else we know about the upcoming Netflix project.

What is the release date of Somos?

According to Netflix, the six-episode series "Somos." will debut on the streaming service on June 30. A Spanish-language trailer for the show is available through the Netflix Latinoamérica YouTube page, if you'd like to see a preview. 

The production took some time to gel: Schamus said that obtaining the rights to the ProPublica report wasn't easy. He was finally able to get them in 2018, the show's production notes say, beginning a three-year journey to get the series on screen. Production began in late 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay when he and his crew were forced to suspend shooting for five months. He ended up having to monitor the Durango, Mexico-based shoot from New York (via Variety).

This is Schamus' first foray into television, but not his last, as Variety reports that this experience has made him "enamored" with TV. As a result, he will now be writing and showrunning a European series. Fans will just have to wait to see what that is.

Who is in the cast of Somos?

Schamus said that his crew was "created by Mexicans and primarily for Mexicans," and that he made a point to hire women for all aspects of the series,"for it is mainly women who spoke most fearlessly in Ginger Thompson's oral history, and women who continue to lead the effort to memorialize and account for the events on which 'Somos.' is based," his statement says. Thus, the cast includes both actors and non-actors, whom Variety says underwent an intensive three-week workshop to prepare for their roles. Schamus himself had to learn Spanish for the production. 

Professional actors tied to the production include Caraly Sánchez as Flor Maria as Fernanda Rivera as Nayeli in a story about a trafficking ring. Susan Villarreal plays the Madam, and Jero Medina is Benjamin. Natalia MartÍnez plays Aracely, a woman faced with the idea of motherhood, and Jesus Sido plays Paquito. Iliana Donatlán plays Irene, a woman standing up to lawlessness in spite of her fear. Mercedes Hernández portrays Doña Chayo, a tough woman who will risk everything to protect the ones she loves.

The show also features screenwriters Monika Revilla and Fernanda Melchor, co-director Marianna Chenillo and executive producer Sandra Solares.

What is the plot of Somos?

"Somos." is meant to focus on a newsworthy event from the perspective of the unheralded victims. Melchor, in the intro to the series' production notes, said, "One of the key features of the 'Somos.' screenplay is the number of main characters and storylines it has compared to conventional series. Rather than establishing a pre-defined plot, much of the writing was focused on creating a mosaic of believable and complex characters that could depict a wide range of possible human experiences of violence." She said that the writers drew on dramatic elements of the original report in a way that reflected the everyday lives of the people who live in that environment. 

The various stories include that of the Linares family, who own a wealthy farm on the outskirts of Allende; Doña Chayo, who risks it all for family; two sisters, Irene and town vet Érika, facing pivotal moments; Héctor and Óscar, two drug traffickers who hate one another; DEA agents Stephanie and Carlos, who try to trap small-time criminals though their superiors have other plans; teenager Nancy, who makes the football team; and Flor Maria, kidnapped and held prisoner in a brothel. 

The series features no main leading roles. "It shows the human side of those of us who live in a state of violence, thereby recapturing personal perspectives. But beyond the tragedy, 'Somos.' is about the characters, their daily lives, and life's little dramas," Revilla said