Love in the time of Covid

Love in the time of Covid

Chinchiná: Colombia’s popular daytime soap operas — known as telenovelas in Latin America — were forced off the screens by the coronavirus pandemic. But after six months of silence, they are back in all their steamy and corny glory — kisses included.

Filmed in the central-western Caldas region “Coffee with the Scent of a Woman” is operating under strict restrictions in terms of staffing capacity, the use of masks, personal protective equipment, and regular Covid-19 testing.

Actors Laura Londono and William Levy, the stars of “Coffee,” talk to each other without masks, centimeters apart as the romance between their characters Paloma and Sebastian bubbles to the surface.

“If we were astronauts we’d have a different distance but we’re actors, we work with the voice and the body,” said Katherine Velez, who plays Paloma’s mother, Carmenza.To ensure safety, the entire production staff take Covid tests every Monday and most of them live at the farm that doubles as the soap’s set.

Director Mauricio Cruz says the testing is crucial to give confidence to actors working closely with each other.” Yesterday we did a kiss scene for some promotional material … the test was the day before so … we were very safe,” said Cruz.

But once the cameras roll “everyone is without face masks, confident that the product has the situation under control as much as possible.” The world of telenovelas is rife with contradictions.

Television productions have smaller budgets while the pandemic has pushed up logistical costs.
The virus, though, has not only disrupted revenues and schedules, it’s also affected storylines. Scriptwriters were forced to rewrite scenes involving parties or major social events in favor of small family gatherings.

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