Those Who Stayed – Ukrainian miniseries set to debut on Netflix

A still from the movie Those Who Stayed
A still from the movie Those Who Stayed

The first Ukrainian-language series, Those Who Stayed, exploring the lives of Ukrainians who stood their ground in the opening days of the war, premiers on Netflix on Nov. 1.

The series has already been acquired by 30 distributors around the world, including France, Australia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic and Balkan countries.

Those Who Stayed is a must-watch for those looking to understand the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resilient spirit of the Ukrainian people.

Across six episodes, the series weaves together the shock and turmoil of the 2022 full-scale invasion with the raw emotions of fear, despair, determination, unyielding courage, and even a touch of humor and hope – elements that have become intrinsic to each narrative. These stories reveal how humor and self-irony became vital tools for survival, highlighting how Ukrainians maintained their sanity and rediscovered their strength in the chaos of war.

Insights about the miniseries you won't want to miss:

1. Those Who Stayed is an anthology series, an unusual format for Ukrainian television, each episode of which tells a separate story. Yet, they are all tied together by a common setting and time, along with a tone that blends tragedy with humor, faith, and optimism.

2. Each episode is a fictional short film grounded in real-life events, with characters inspired by real people. For example, House with a Star episode draws its inspiration from the Ukrainian pop culture legend Andriy Danylko, who, both in February and March, posted daily on social media, becoming a symbol of Kyiv's resistance and hope for the future.

Each member of the team has experienced the challenges of being in Kyiv during its darkest days, adding an authentic and emotionally resonant quality to the films.

3. This project is the first of its kind in Ukraine, created in collaboration with foreign studios, and one of the pioneering television series to commence filming in Ukraine in 2023. It's a joint effort between FILM.UA Group and the German studio Red Arrow Studios International, with co-producers from Sweden (SVT), Norway (NRK), and Finland (YLE).

4. The filming of the project was difficult to plan and implement, even in peacetime. Six separate film crews, 33 days of shooting, scenes with children and animals in almost every episode, and the challenges of filming during wartime, including restrictions on night shoots, bridge locations, drone usage, and choice of filming locations. Filming began in late March 2023 and was carried out in two shifts, three episodes per each, spanning 1.5 months. It was a true test of resilience.

5. Each episode was crafted by a creative team of acclaimed Ukrainian directors, including Alexey Isaakov, Artem Litvinenko, Pavel Ostrikov, Tala Prystayetskaya, Valentin Shpakov, and Katya Tsarik. Showrunner Anastasia Lodkina penned the scripts for the crucial first and final episodes of the series, making Those Who Stayed an authentic Ukrainian masterpiece.

6. Some of the beloved actors who graced the screen during filming include Antonina Khyzhniak, Vyacheslav Dovzhenko, Viktor Zhdanov, Vyacheslav Babenkov, Mariia Stopnik, and a German actor Fabian Männel, who displayed courage by venturing to Kyiv during the war.

7. The filming took place in Kyiv and surrounding regions, with scenes shot on the iconic streets of Podil and Khreshchatyk, in residential areas, at metro stations, and underground parking lots where people sought shelter.

8. The filming of the episode In the Zoo took place almost entirely at the 12 Months Zoo. For Ukrainian filmmakers, this was their first experience of filming wild animals in such a setting. They had to adapt to the daily routines of Archie the rhinoceros, primates, giraffes, and camels, scheduling the entire production around the animals' natural rhythms – they are still quite afraid of loud noises. The team conducted specialized tests to ensure the animals' comfort and safety, making certain that no harm came to any of them during the filming process.

9. Finding the perfect locations was a tall order, especially for the episode House with a Star. The protagonist's apartment was selected from a staggering 24 options. Likewise, for the episode Family, the team scoured for a playhouse that could authentically replicate the aftermath of a Russian missile strike, with shattered windows and piles of dust and debris.

10. German actor Fabian Männel arrived in Kyiv for a week to shoot the episode Kyiv-Berlin. When the team initially embarked on the quest to cast a German character, everyone was almost sure that it was nearly impossible – Kyiv was being shelled and there were constant power outages. Despite the odds, numerous candidates expressed a keen interest in the project. After a series of joint online tests with Mariia Stopnyk, Fabian emerged as the ideal choice. Although Männel initially arrived in Kyiv with a touch of caution, he was swiftly captivated by the city and the indomitable spirit of its people. In subsequent interviews, he enthusiastically shared his experiences during filming and his journey in Ukraine.

Securing the use of damaged cars for the production proved to be a challenging endeavor, and even for the episode Kyiv-Berlin, the crew pulled off a remarkable feat by procuring a genuine armored personnel carrier for filming.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine