Christopher Livesay and Stephen Buchanan are developing “March to La Mancha,” a documentary about former U.S. servicemen who have joined a shadow war of unpaid volunteers taking on ISIS, Variety has learned exclusively.
Preferred Content’s Kevin Iwashina (“Jiro Dreams of Sushi”) and Zipper Bros Films’ Glen Zipper, who won an Academy Award for “Undefeated,” have joined the team as executive producers and will advise on the film and help guide the sales and marketing.
The production team is not identifying the subjects of the film until it is completed.
Filmed in Iraq, Syria, Europe and the U.S., the film features first-hand footage from conflict zones and the risks these characters take to get there and back, from testing law enforcement in their own country, to making unpredictable alliances with clandestine recruiters and Middle East fixers. As they endeavor to take on Islamic State terrorists, these Don Quixote-like characters discover entirely different enemies they never expected — their own demons from wars past.
Livesay is a foreign correspondent whose recent work focuses on Middle East conflict, Europe’s refugee crisis, and the threat ISIS poses to the West. He has reported for the documentary series “PBS Frontline” on veteran exploitation in the United States; for NPR on underground rock music in Iran; and for Vice News on mafia blood feuds in Italy.
Buchanan is the president and executive producer at More Media. Development of “March to La Mancha” began in October, 2015, and production started in January.
“We’ve come away with some remarkable footage, some even from behind enemy lines,” said Livesay, who’s directing the film. “But what really sets this documentary apart is the unprecedented access to our characters before they even left for the battlefield. They’re regular people with regular jobs and families. But what they’re doing is definitely out of the ordinary, and in a big legal gray area.”
Buchanan added, “Our characters pushed the limits of what their friends, families, and even the law could tolerate. There’s definitely tension the closer they get to ISIS. A lot of it. But there’s just as much tension at home. Why would you put your mom, your dad, or your kids through this?”