Anthology Series 'Those Who Stayed' Begins Production in Ukraine

• 20.03.2023

A year since the start of the war Ukrainian filmmakers find a way to carry on.

FILM.UA Group has announced that production has commenced on powerful anthology series Those Who Stayed: the first international series to go into production in Ukraine since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Those Who Stayed is a six-part anthology series inspired by true stories of people in Kyiv during February and March of 2022, following the start of the Russian invasion. This unique series showcases stories of hope and triumph in the face of adversity, with a touch of humor. 

What sets the project apart is its international backing. Those Who Stayed is codeveloped and cofinanced with Red Arrow Studios International (Germany). SVT (Sweden), NRK (Norway), YLE (Finland) are coproducing. Further announcements are pending. 

“Nordic partners boarding a Ukrainian project codeveloped with a German studio shows that we can do great things together. We are excited to share this important story with the world!”Kateryna Vyshnevska, Head of Development and Co-productions at FILM.UA Group says.

The first filming block covering three out of six episodes went into production on March 17 in and around Kyiv. The second block will commence in April. Series delivery is planned for Autumn 2023.

“During our darkest moments, we wanted to share the light of our people. We wanted to share the stories of Ukrainians who remained in Kyiv during the most uncertain and dangerous time, in the initial months of the war. While every second person left, every second person stayed – because something kept them: duty, love, responsibility, principle... And in these dark times, we wanted to show the world the light of Ukrainian talent: actors, directors, cameramen, and artists. They all stayed to fight and win,” – says Anastasiia Lodkina, showrunner of the series.

The three episodes currently being filmed are: Kyiv-Berlin, Homeless and In the Zoo. Three production teams are working side by side, adhering to strict safety protocols and dealing with the daily challenges of filming amidst the war.

The episodes are filmed in and around Kyiv in the same locations that the original stories are based: the streets and squares of Kyiv in early spring, underground train stations, suburbs and artsy Podil, and... even the 12 Months Zoo, whose team courageously stayed behind to take care of the animals at the start of the war (the inspiration for the episode "In the Zoo").

The first episode tells a story of a homeless person who joins the Territorial Defences and finally gains visibility and purpose in life. 

The second episode features an unexpected hero, a cleaner in a private zoo, who saves the animals when the Russians invade. 

Finally, the third episode introduces Klaus from Germany, who arrives to whisk away to safety the girl he met in Berlin but ultimately decides to stay and help, finding his own sense in life.

Unprecedented collective effort went into the creation of the series. Those Who Stayed showcases some of Ukraine’s strongest talent. The three episodes in production now are directed by: 

Homeless - Pavlo Ostrikov (U Are the Universe)

Kyiv - Berlin - Valentyn Shpakov (Early Swallows)

In the Zoo - Artem Lytvynenko (The Sniffer)

Anastasiia Lodkina, known for the Italian-Ukrainian mafia comedy Koza Nostra, produced by FILM.UA Group and Pepito Produzioni for RAI Cinema, is showrunning.  Anna Eliseeva (Mavka.The Forest Song, The Best Weekend) and Kateryna Vyshnevska (Citizens at War, Hide and Seek) are producing.

The stories of Those Who Stayed showcase moments of hope and humanity despite the daily drama of war. When things get dark, humor becomes the bridge between despair and hope. The series serves as an antidote to the daunting daily news blasting from screens and reminds us of the reasons we have to stay and fight: our families, friends, dogs and hamsters, our schools and offices, our very lives – all things big and small. 

“SVT is very proud to be part of the making of Those Who Stayed. While the war in Ukraine has been covered extensively by the news media, we can't even imagine the daily life of the Ukrainian people. This unique series changes that, and truly makes a difference” - Anna Croneman, Head of Drama at SVT (Sweden).

"Ukrainians are best placed to tell their own story. It is now one year since the Russian invasion began, and it is important that we can play our part in creating hope for peace during this time," says Jarmo Lampela, Head of Yle Drama (Finland).

“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”Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia, VP Scripted Acquisitions & Co-Productions, Red Arrow Studios International.


Further information:

Format: Anthology 

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Episodes: 6x30 minutes 

Showrunner: Anastasiia Lodkina

Producers: Anna Eliseeva, Kateryna Vyshnevska

Directors: Katya Tsarik, Tala Prystaietska, Artem Lytvynenko, Valentin Shpakov, Oleksii Yesakov, Pavlo Ostrikov

Writers: Anastasiia Lodkina, Tala Prystaietska, Artem Lytvynenko, Serhii Lushchik, Pavlo Ostrikov.

Red Arrow Studios International is a world-leading TV distributor of scripted, formats and factual shows from a global network of in-house production companies, outstanding third-party producers and digital-content partners.

With offices in Munich, London and Los Angeles, Red Arrow Studios International co-produces and finances global entertainment, and distributes acclaimed content to over 200 territories worldwide.

YLE is Finland's national public broadcasting company, founded in 1926. It is a joint-stock company which is 99.98% owned by the Finnish state, and employs around 3,200 people in Finland. Yle operates three national television channels, 13 radio channels and services, and 25 regional radio stations. 

SVT is the Swedish public service television company with the widest range of programming of all TV companies in Sweden. SVT operates four TV channels - SVT1, SVT2, SVT24/SVT Barn (a childrens´ channel) and together with UR; Kunskapskanalen. 

NRK is the Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company, and the largest media organization in Norway.