Unspooling from June 8-15, the Key Buyers Event: Digital Edition will feature a slew of drama projects worth looking out for, from psychological thrillers to biopics and new takes on modern relationships.
“Insomnia” (1-2-3 Production) 2022
Producers: Valeriy Fedorovich, Evgeniy Nikishov
Synopsis: Yuri is a successful psychiatrist and hypnotist, a committed non-believer, capable of rationalizing anything except for his own nightmares: featuring his late ex-wife, some red-haired beauty and a strange symbol that looks like an infinity sign. When a mother of a boy, also tormented by nightmares, turns to Yuri for help, he tries to untangle this case. In the process of treatment Yuri comes across evidence of reincarnation, while the boy himself gives him clues to the mystery of his own nightmares.
Valeriy Fedorovich: “‘Insomnia’ is a mystical drama with some thriller elements and unconventional Russian A-list duet of Gosha Kutsenko and Irina Starshenbaum, known internationally for their leading roles in the sci-fi box-office hit “Invasion” and festival hit “Leto.” It represents the genre where audiences appreciate vivid, memorable characters with their own inimitable methods of investigation. In my opinion, our protagonist Yuri fully meets these criteria. He tries to approach the mystery with the help of hypnosis, while his patient, a little boy, doesn’t understand the nature of his own memories.”
“Mediator” (START) 2021
Producers: Eduard Iloyan, Vitaliy Shlyappo, Alexey Trotsuk, Denis Zhalinskiy, Irina Sosnovaya, Igor Tolstunov
Synopsis: Andrey is a professional negotiator. When people can’t agree, he helps them – for a lot of money. For each dispute, he changes himself beyond recognition. Andrey can convince anyone of anything, anytime and anywhere, but he seems to have a hard time accepting his own self. This twisted psychological thriller tests the limits of how far people can go to get what they want. Cruel, dark and shockingly manipulative, Andrey proves to be extremely efficient.
Irina Sosnovaya: “This is a series about a professional negotiator: if an armed terrorist takes hostages, or you need to pressure someone into a decision without resorting to force, you call him. He’s paid well for his services – he drives an expensive car, dines in Michelin-starred restaurants. One day, he is asked to help investigate a series of teenage suicides and it turns his life upside down. People who approach him usually turn a blind eye to his methods and he enjoys manipulating people, getting into people’s heads like Leonardo DiCaprio in Nolan’s “Inception.” Nothing’s off limits when he is in pursuit of a goal. This show exposes the flaws in our society: selfishness, aggressiveness, avarice and vanity.”
“Happy End” (Art Pictures Distribution) 2021
Producers: Sergey Bonarchuck, Alexey Kiselev, Anastasiya Koretskaya
Synopsis: The series depicts the journey of a young couple who have decided to turn their relationship into a sex attraction for the whole world to see. Vlad and Lera are heroes of our time, in every sense of the word. For them, the main question is whether you can hold onto your sincerity when you are under constant scrutiny, and when it’s normal to conduct your personal affairs online. They push this logic to the very limit.
Evgeniy Sangadzhiev (director): “We have fooled everyone – ‘Happy End’ is not purely about porn or webcam, it’s about love and connection. Everything in life is about love, it’s the most powerful drive. Our main goal was to show the audience that you can find this feeling literally everywhere: even in the webcam world, probably the most unexpected place of them all. This platform is all about connection, one that you choose yourself: it can be an erotic one or it can be a simple conversation with a stranger, just to make you feel better. So don’t be judgmental: there are a lot of gray areas there and in our life in general.”
“Fatherland” (NTV) 2021
Producers: Timur Weinstein, Natalia Lazareva, Yuri Sapronov, Igor Mishin
Synopsis: This dark and dramatic series is adapted from award-winning novel “Germans” by a prominent Russian writer, Aleksandr Terekhov. Anton Ebergard, a journalist famous for his cutting-edge exposés on “dirty” public officials, is falling on hard times. He goes against his convictions to become a publicity officer at a city council. Entering the office, the former journalist starts sinking into the dark underworld of the off-the-books deals and ruthless subterfuge, losing his friends and his loved ones.
Timur Weinstein: “It’s a project that may stir up many controversies among the viewers and buyers. The questions raised here are buried behind thick fences: corruption among politicians and law enforcement, money laundering schemes, power-plays between the government and criminal world, the involvement of media and the tragic limitations they face. All this makes ‘Fatherland’ raw and real, which resonates with audiences worldwide. What’s especially powerful is the fact that these issues are taboo in Russian society, they aren’t openly discussed or confronted. It’s Russian philosophical crime drama at its best, playing on the feelings of guilt, duty, honor and survival instincts. Sadly, the latter wins, but this is what makes it so uninhibited and mesmerizing.”
“Vertinsky” (Roskino) 2021
Producer: Konstantin Ernst
Synopsis: An eight-episode series retelling the dramatic and unpredictable tale of an outstanding Russian poet and performer, an idol of the first half of the 20th century: Alexander Vertinsky. Based on the biography of the famous poet, we follow his path from an unknown young writer and beggar to a famous and respected performer, forced to wander in exile.
Konstantin Ernst: “Vertinsky was a singer-songwriter. He was a representative of the traditional medieval genre that survived in Russia until the 20th century: a man who expressed his feelings and thoughts in his songs, and that would certainly help the audience understand him. Vertinsky’s life was an adventure per se. Escaping a firing squad, getting off the needle, casting a spell on Marlene Dietrich and expressing the thoughts and emotions of millions of people – it’s enough to fascinate a person of any nationality.”
“Swamp” (Kinopoisk HD) 2021
Producers: Aleksandra Remizova, Olga Filipuk, Vladimir Maslov, Maksim Oleynikov, Mariya Trubnikova
Synopsis: Five young Muscovites go to a mysterious monastery in the village of Topi, hoping to find help and answers to their questions. Each of them has their own drama: unhappy love, feelings of guilt over the death of a loved one, an incurable disease… However, their trip is no longer a healing one when they are forced to meet their own fears. Soon they find out that escaping this half-dead village is almost impossible.
Dmitry Glukhovsky (writer): “‘The Swamp’ was inspired by the games of my subconscious, one that keeps sending me into a weird land at nights. It looks like the Russian province where I often lived as a child, still populated with the now-dead people, my relatives, who surrounded me there and then. Unsuspecting that they are long gone and acting as if they were still alive, among other magical things that are happening there. It was also inspired by the eternal history of Russia, sometimes reminiscent of these creepy and sticky dreams you just can’t wake up from. In Russia, death often seems to be more real than life. You are welcome to come and witness it all.”
“Catfish” (Gazprom Media Entertainment Television) 2021
Producers: Anton Shchukin, Alexandr Dulerayn, Alexander Tsekalo
Synopsis: “Catfish” is a story of a generation gap, forgiveness and reconnection. A single father, who works as a cop in the police department’s juvenile division, assumes a fictional online identity – all in the attempt to get closer to his rebellious teenage daughter, all the while dealing with his own midlife crisis.
Anton Shchukin: “On one hand it’s a universal story about fathers and their children. But ‘Catfish’ feels fresh because it happens in the era of social networks and TikTok. Our main character, played by Pavel Maikov, is a hard-boiled cop who is demoted to the juvenile division. He is a loving father, but his teenage daughter hates him. He is a so-called ‘real man,’ but it seems that today it’s no longer appreciated – the only thing he brings is trouble. He needs to get in touch with his daughter, himself and the people around him.”
“Married Life Scenes” (Sreda Production Company) 2021
Producers: Alexander Tsekalo, Ivan Samokhvalov, Maksim Polinskiy, Nikolay Buligin
Synopsis: Young couple Polina and Nikita are going to divorce. However, an unexpected truth is suddenly revealed: a nasty client’s accidental murder at the agency where they both work brings back old passion into their relationship. This chance happening leads to the couple becoming serial killers.
Ivan Samokhvalov: “‘Married Life Scenes’ just premiered on the MTS Media platform KION. We have received only positive reviews and the show has been confirmed for the second season, which we aim to shoot this fall. This is a good start for a big Russian franchise and I hope this title will have a long lifespan, also as an international format. I can easily imagine an American version of ‘Married Life Scenes, ‘complete with the same plot and characters, as this subject is important and understandable for different audiences and cultures.”
“Snails Race” (KION MTS Media) 2021
Producers: Igor Mishin, Alexander Tsekalo, Ivan Samohvalov Maxim Filatov, Natasha Isakova, Maxim Ivanov Sergey Maevskiy, Danila Ippolitov
Synopsis: Marina, head of the crisis center, recalls a past that doesn’t exist. This alternative world, where she risks her life investigating the rape of a teenage girl, seems more real to her than her own, even though it’s quite prosperous. What makes her run away from herself?
“Detective Anna” (Star Media) 2020 – Season 2
Producers: Vitaliy Bordachev, Vlad Riashyn, Pavel Babin
Synopsis: The long-awaited sequel of the popular series “Detective Anna.” The year is 1894, and the small provincial town of Zatonsk has calmed down after the ominous events that occurred in the first season. Anna Mironova has also lost her gift of communication with spirits. But one day, the spirits return. A gloomy shadow now looms over Zatonsk once again, as more brutal murders start to shake the town and its citizens.
Maria Grechishnikova (CEO of Star Media Group): “Our heroes have changed a lot: from a young and light-minded girl, Anna has evolved into a conscientious and serious lady. The series’ second season will be even more intriguing and exciting than the first one. New characters and new locations will be added, with new episodes featuring even more mysterious crimes, enigmatic spirits and unexpected dramatic twists. And, of course, the viewers will see the long-awaited continuation of the storyline between the protagonists, Anna Mironova and Yakov Shtolman, although not all aspects in their relationship will develop smoothly. Answering your question about future seasons, I can say this: Everything is possible. Interesting and vivid stories tend to have a long life.”