EXCLUSIVE: Dutch docs indie Scenery is lining up a feature about a Ukrainian refugee ballet company.
The doc, Front Row, is currently shooting across Europe as the company performs its special dance performance ‘Giselle’ in cities such as London and Paris.
Dutch filmmaker Miriam Guttman, whose three-parter Seeds of Deceit was part of the Official Selection at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, is directing. No partners are involved at this stage, and the plan is to shoot more footage and release the doc at festivals in 2024.
Should Ukraine capital Kiev become safer, the company will perform there but Ukraine remains locked in battle with Russian soldiers, who has been attacking the country since February.
The doc follows three performers, as they both perform and come to terms with the horrors of war back home, communicating with their friends and families via FaceTime. During the filming of rehearsals, one learned their former dance teacher had been executed.
They are terrible stories,” said Scenery partner Lea Fels, but added the storylines are also of hope of resilience. “You can see that dancing keeps them going. It is a way to survive the war.
Scenery, a joint venture with Banijay Benelux, features this week in our International Disruptors profile strand. The company is best known for Netflix and Youku doc Human Playground, which was co-produced with Banijay UK indie Workerbee. It has several new docs in development and is planning a push into longer-form unscripted series.
Scenery is known for its focus on finding new European talent and local stories that can translate internationally. Fels said Front Row is representative of that model. “Those are exactly the stories we want to tell.”
The United Ukrainian Ballet Company is supported by The United Ukrainian Ballet Foundation, which was founded to protect, support and spread Ukrainian culture, which is come under heavy pressure since the war began. Dutch prima ballerina de Jongh oversees the ballet initiative, which is backed by several Dutch cultural and social organizations.
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