UPDATE, EXCLUSIVE: Norway’s NRK has become the third Scandinavian public broadcasting network to join Those Who Stayed as a co-producer.
Previously, EXCLUSIVE: A pair of Nordic networks have boarded Those Who Stayed, the Ukraine invasion anthology series we first told you about last year.
Public broadcasters SVT in Sweden and YLE in Finland have joined Film.UA and Red Arrow Studios International on the project as co-producers.
Shooting on the comedy-drama anthology is planned to begin in March. Three production crews are being readied to allow for a fast turnaround and delivery in autumn of 2023 or winter in early 2024.
The scripted series tells stories from the early days of Russia’s attack on neighbour Ukraine nearly a year ago. We first revealed details in August.
The anthology comedy/drama will focus on the immediate aftermath of the February 24 invasion, with each episode telling the story of a group of characters whose paths cross with characters from different episodes. These encounters will be used as easter eggs that will tease what’s coming next.
Those Who Stayed will showcase the work of one Ukrainian filmmaker per episode, with Koza Nostra writer Anastasiia Lodkina showrunning.
Lodkina will write episode one, titled ‘Family’, which Olexiy Esakov (director of Love in Chains) is directing. Artem Lytvynenko (The Sniffer) is writing and directing episode two, ‘In the Zoo’; Pavlo Ostrikov is behind episode three ‘Homeless’; Tala Prystaetska (writer and creator of Love in Chains) lead on episode four, ‘Mom, I’m Not Scared’; and Serhiy Luschyk is writing episode five, ‘Kyiv-Berlin’, with Valentyn Shpakov (Early Swallows) directing. Lodkina also writes episode six, ‘The Star in the City’, which Katya Tsarik is directing.
The stories include one about a celebrity who stays in Kyiv when his whole team runs, which was inspired by Andriy Danylko, known as Verka Serduchka, who was behind Ukraine’s entry for Eurovision 2007. The producers have secured the rights to his life story and will end the episode with real footage of Verka Serduchka performing in a Kyiv metro station.
Anna Eliseeva, who co-created the series with Lodkina, and Kateryna Vyshnevska are producers.
“The scripts are inspired by the true stories that happened or were witnessed by them,” said Lodkina and Eliseeva in a statement. “A team of eight supporting over 100 animals in a private zoo next to Irpin and Bucha. A Ukrainian celebrity — who you know as a break-out Eurovision star Verka Serduchka — who stayed in his house alone in the center of Kyiv. Foreigners who came to whisk their friends away to safety but chose to stay in Ukraine. We learn a great deal about humanity through the outstanding choices ordinary people make every day.”
Vyshnevska is announcing the new partners today at the Series in Development showcase at the Gothenburg Film Festival today. The nonprofit organization she runs, the Ukraine Content Club, is presenting today, with Those Who Stayed and LLC Ideas Bank’s Alchemskys Mystery also being touted to buyers.
“The world as we know it has changed,” said Vyshnevska. “February 2022 ushered in a war in the heart of Europe. May February 2023 usher in a year where we, the citizens of Europe, stand together when it comes to protecting our values and telling our shared stories together. Nordic partners boarding a Ukrainian project co-developed with a German studio – we can do greater things together. We are excited to bring this important story to the world.”
Anna Croneman, Head of Drama at SVT, said: “At SVT we are very proud to be part in the making of the anthology series Those Who Stayed. The war in Ukraine is covered by news media but the ongoing, everyday life of the people of Ukraine we cannot even imagine. This unique series changes that, and truly makes a difference.”
Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia, VP, Scripted Acquisitions & Co-Productions at Red Arrow Studios International, added: “Those Who Stayed is a project with such urgency and immediacy – we cannot wait to share it with the world. The emotional connection of creators telling their own story, in their own words, has resulted in remarkably creative scripts, and ensures that this series will be sincere, genuine, and relatable.”
The producers hope Those Who Stayed will also allow Ukraine’s writers and directors to land more work with European creators.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there have been 18,657 recorded civilian casualties in Ukraine, with 7,110 killed, between February 24, 2022, and January 29 this year.
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