Commissioned by Germany’s ZDF, with pre-sales in negotiation in other European territories, the series launches in February 2023 to coincide with the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
(London, U.K., January 11, 2023) Blue Ant International announced today a distribution and co-production financing deal with Film.UA, Ukraine’s top production studio, Tilt Media in Australia, and GTV Docs in London for a six-part documentary series, CITIZENS AT WAR: A Year in Ukraine. The series features exclusive and very personal interviews with the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his wife, Olena and details the trauma and triumphs of the war-torn Ukrainian nation and of its people. It includes powerful interviews with men and women whose lives were turned upside down by the war including a Ukrainian beauty queen turned deadly sniper, a Russian soldier terrified by unexpected Ukrainian resistance against his convoy en route to Kyiv and the sole Ukrainian survivor of a mass execution committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha. Set to launch in February 2023, on the first anniversary of the invasion, the deal was brokered by Lilla Hurst, Global Head of Acquisitions & Partnerships, Blue Ant International.
On February 24th, 2022, Vladimir Putin ordered an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Ordinary Ukrainians saw their peaceful lives set aflame by the Russian invasion. Millions fled the front lines to save their lives. Many observers believed the Eastern European nation would topple in days, yet most Ukrainians stayed in the country to fight the invaders with any weapon they could find, in an epic battle for survival. This is their story.
“We are thrilled to collaborating with the biggest production company in Ukraine for this premium documentary series that offers rare access to Zelensky as well as unique footage of the people who are on the front lines of the invasion in Ukraine,” said Lilla Hurst, Global Head of Acquisitions & Partnerships Blue Ant International. “This project exemplifies our solutions-based approach as a distributor, combined with our commitment to premium, access-driven storytelling.”
“How the people of a free and democratic society in modern-day Europe rallied, in order to defend their country and national identity against a foreign aggressor, is the most important story of our time,” says Kateryna Vyshnevska, Head of Development and Co-productions Film.UA Group. “All the partners agree the documentary needed to be told in a way that showed the lives of people behind the headlines.”
For the last year, the filmmakers of Kyiv’s most prestigious film production house have fanned out to the frontlines to record the fate of their nation. With access to Volodymyr Zelensky and his government, to the Ukrainian military and by employing dozens of production staff on the ground in Ukraine, the series documents the lives of Ukrainian citizens and of some of its leaders. It tells extremely powerful stories with unique and often personal archives as well as newly-shot footage.
The Australian, Ukrainian and British co-production is executive produced by Chris Hilton, Tilman Remme, Victor Mirsky and Kateryna Vyshnevska. Commissioned by ZDF, and with pre-sales in negotiation with additional European networks, each of the six, one-hour episodes features citizens telling their stories of survival and endurance. Episodes include: The First Ten Days, Zelensky, Women at War, The Volunteer Army, The Siege of Mariupol and The Russians.
“With a very short production schedule, I knew finding the right partners was crucial to bring this project together,” says Chris Hilton, CEO and Executive Producer, Tilt Media. “GTV Docs, Film.UA and ZDF enabled us to tell this critical story and award-winning German/British filmmaker, Tilman Remme is the ideal storyteller with his vast experience in films about the history of warfare.”
“This project is unlike any other and reveals the heartache and inspiring determination of the Ukrainian people, a nation that has banded together to resist the military takeover of their country,” says Tilman Remme, Partner and Creative Director, GTV Docs. “I am grateful for the collaborative spirit of all partners and to ZDF for coming in as the main broadcaster.”
Blue Ant International is a leading worldwide distributor of high-quality, creative content that engages audiences worldwide and across multiple platforms. The company offers a full-service approach to production partners with sales operations in the U.S., the UK and Canada. Blue Ant International has a growing slate of over 5,000 hours of premium content, including distinctive series and formats in five key genres including factual entertainment, specialist factual, high-impact documentaries, kids and family, and scripted. Blue Ant International also has one of the world’s largest offerings of 4K natural history content. Blue Ant International is a division of Blue Ant Media.
Tilt Media is a freshly-minted media company founded by industry veteran Chris Hilton. The new venture based in Los Angeles and Australia is committed to seeking out projects with grit, filmmakers with heart, and audiences with curiosity. Its slate aims for diversity across format, story and talent.
GTV Docs is a high-end factual production company in London producing specialist factual programmes for audiences in North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
FILM.UA Group is a creative powerhouse and one of the largest Eastern European media groups, operating in global markets and covering the full production cycle: development, production, adaptation and distribution of audiovisual content through a vertical business structure.