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SVT, NRK, YLE commission Ukrainian war dramedy from Film.UA, Red Arrow Studios

Those Who Stayed tells individual stories based on the experiences of those living through war

SVT in Sweden, NRK in Norway and YLE in Finland have come on board Those Who Stayed, a war anthology series co-developed by Ukrainian producer Film.UA and Red Arrow Studios International.

The 6×30′ series, inspired by the true stories of Ukrainians who decided to stay in Kyiv after the beginning of the Russian invasion last year, is set to begin shooting next month.

Described as a comedy-drama, it brings together established and emerging Ukrainian talent, with each episode written and directed by a different creator. The episodes are inspired by their own experiences of staying in Kyiv during the first months of the war.

Stories include an unhoused man who joins the territorial defences, where he finally feels seen; the unlikely hero ready to quit his job at a zoo, who ends up saving the animals; and a woman from Bucha forced to shelter in a tiny studio with her kids, a dog, her husband and her ex.

The producers on the project are Anna Eliseeva and Kateryna Vyshnevska, with Anastasiia Lodina serving as showrunner. Red Arrow Studios International is handling global distribution and pitched the project alongside Film.UA to buyers at Mipcom in Cannes last year.

Lodkina and Eliseeva, the creators of the project, said in a joint statement: “Those Who Stayed aims to amplify and showcase the voices of the different writer-director duos behind each episode. The scripts are inspired by the true, truly moving and sometimes hilarious stories that happened to or were witnessed by them. And those stories show just how much we learn about humanity through the incredible choices ordinary people make every day.”

Vyshnevska, head of development and coproductions at Film.UA Group, added: “The world as we know it has changed. 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 to protect our values and tell our shared stories. Nordic partners boarding a Ukrainian project co-developed with a German studio shows that we can do great things together. We are excited to share this important story with the world.”

Anna Croneman, head of drama at SVT, said: “SVT are very proud to be part in the making of Those Who Stayed. The war in Ukraine is covered by the 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 of scripted acquisitions and coproductions at Red Arrow Studios International, said: “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.”

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