Croatian-Ukrainian crime drama “The Silence,” whose first season sold wide last year for Munich-based Beta Film, is heading to Kyiv for Season 2, Variety can reveal.
The series is based on the critically acclaimed fact-based books by investigative journalist Drago Hedl that examine human and weapons trafficking throughout Eastern Europe.
The first season spent 25 days shooting in the Ukrainian capital. Season 2 will return for three days and be directed remotely, due to the security risk, but will shoot several scenes featuring key Ukrainian cast, including star Kseniya Mishina, as well as some establishing shots. Production in Kyiv is due to wrap Feb. 25.
Nebojša Taraba of Zagreb-based production company Drugi Plan, which produces the show alongside Croatian broadcaster HRT in collaboration with Beta Film, said the producers had no choice but to give the script for Season 2 a rewrite in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“’The Silence’ is a contemporary story, based on three novels which are also based on true events, and we simply couldn’t stay with the planned storyline,” said Taraba. “We wanted to keep the structure of our story, but the war became the backdrop of this season.”
Season 2 begins in Nov. 2022, as the war in Ukraine has triggered a flood of refugees and Croatia is on the brink of entering the European Schengen zone. Olga and her sister Alina are neck deep in humanitarian work to help those affected by the war. Vesna and Stibor are searching for evidence that is supposed to help bring Horvatic to justice in the sex trafficking case.
Unexpected help comes from Mila, a mysterious agent from Belgrade. While Olga is looking for a way out of her marriage, a series of murders linked to the trafficking of underage girls awakens ghosts from the dark past of Croatian politics. All of them are facing an international conspiracy involving the theft of humanitarian funds and smuggling of military aid for Ukraine; and especially for Olga, it becomes a struggle to keep her personal life at balance.
Season 1 of “The Silence” screened in the Berlinale Series Market Selects showcase at last year’s Berlin Festival. U.S. streaming service Topic acquired the series for the U.S. and Canada and HBO Europe for Central and Eastern Europe, while the show also sold to German-French broadcasting group ZDF/Arte, as well as Lumière for Flemish-speaking Benelux.
Taraba said the decision to shoot parts of Season 2 in Kyiv, despite the risks, was born out of both practical necessity and a desire to support the fledgling Ukrainian production biz.
“Companies which were our co-production partners on Season 1, Star Media Ukraine and streaming platform Oll.tv, don’t exist anymore. But people, our dear colleagues, are still there, as well as cast members in some of the leading roles,” he said. “We know how much it means to them to keep working under these circumstances and it is the least that we can do for them.”