“The Freedom Orchestra” (working title), a documentary film presented by Clive Myrie, will tell the story of Ukraine’s newly formed Freedom Orchestra. In the midst of the ongoing war with Russia, 75 of Ukraine’s noted musicians have come together to bring a message of defiance and hope. Some of their family members are on the frontlines, and many have fled Ukraine since the war began.
Myrie follows the stories of the musicians from rehearsing, often alone, in Ukraine, to coming together for their first rehearsal as an orchestra in Warsaw for their inaugural concert — ahead of a tour of Europe and the U.S., including a performance at the BBC Proms on July 31.
Myrie said: “There has always been a cultural frontline in this war and I wanted to reflect that struggle. This documentary, I hope, shines a light on Ukraine’s artistic achievements as well as creative spirit, despite the suffering.”
Suzy Klein, head of arts and classical music TV at the BBC, added: “The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is a beacon of hope in a terrible time and an opportunity for Ukrainians to see their finest musicians representing them on the world stage.”
The BBC News film will be broadcast on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in September. Executive producers are Vara Szajkowski and Clare Paterson. Commissioning editors for BBC Arts are Alistair Pegg and Stephen James-Yeoman.
Meanwhile, production has wrapped on Sky‘s “The Puppet Asylum,” a horror short from writer-director Otto Baxter, and production is underway on feature documentary “Otto Baxter: Not A F***ing Horror Story.” The companion pieces are the first original commissions of this scale, written and directed by a person — Baxter — with Down Syndrome, to be ordered by a major British broadcaster, Sky said.
“The Puppet Asylum,” a 30-minute short set in Victorian London, is an allegorical horror biopic made by Baxter as a reimagining of his own life, from birth to becoming his own master. It stars Paul Kaye, Rebecca Callard, Myanna Buring, with Dexter Fletcher and Adeel Akhtar, and score by Ed Harcourt. “Otto Baxter: Not A F***ing Horror Story” follows Baxter through a year of change, as he makes his film. It tells the story of Baxter and his family, placing it in the context of the U.K.’s evolving attitudes to disability over his lifetime.
The Sky original joint project was commissioned for Sky Documentaries by Poppy Dixon, director of documentaries and factual and Hayley Reynolds, commissioning editor. “The Puppet Asylum” produced by Peter Beard, Bruce Fletcher and Daisy Allsop with Sally Phillips serving as executive producer. “Otto Baxter: Not A Fuck***g Horror Story” is directed by Fletcher and Beard and produced by Allsop. David Nath is the executive producer. Produced by All3Media backed Story Films, in association with Sky Studios and Archface Films and developed with the support of the BFI, both projects will air on Sky Documentaries and streaming service Now in 2023, following a theatrical window. NBCUniversal Global Distribution handle international sales of “Otto Baxter: Not A F***ing Horror Story” on behalf of Sky Studios.
Dan Edge of C Talent at Whalar, a talent agency and consulting company representing high-profile Deaf and Disabled talent, is attached as Disability Consultant and Access Coordinator.
Silent film classic “Stella Dallas” (1925), starring Belle Bennett, Ronald Colman, Lois Moran and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., directed by Henry King, will be the pre-opening night screening August 30 of the 79th Venice International Film Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 10). This will be the world premiere screening of the new 4K digital version restored by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Film Foundation chaired by Martin Scorsese. It will be accompanied by the film score composed for the occasion by English musician Stephen Horne, commissioned by MoMA and performed live by the Gaga Symphony Orchestra.
The Production Guild of Great Britain has launched “Meet the Producer,” a podcast series, hosted by film critic, presenter and producer Jason Solomons. The six-part series has begun with Jed Mercurio (“Line of Duty,” “Bodyguard”) and five more episodes will drop weekly on Fridays, featuring: Stefan D’Bart and Ward Trowman of Bromantics (“Boiling Point”); Ronni Ancona and Sally Phillips of Captain Dolly (“Classic”); Colin Vaines (“Coriolanus”); Elizabeth Karlsen, Number 9 Films (“Carol”); and Roopesh Parekh (“Willow”).