Variety published the first trailer for ‘Stay Online’, a Ukrainian drama that will premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival on July 22. The action of the movie takes place almost entirely on characters’ smartphones and computer screens, so it was made using the Screenlife format, showing all the events on electronic devices.
This is a story about a girl who does volunteer work and is given a laptop. She is asked to install a special application and deliver the laptop to her brother serving on the frontline, but she receives a phone call from a young boy. After the military actions in Bucha he lost his father and tries to find him, and the main character helps the boy in his search, risking the lives of her loved ones.
The main roles were played by Kateryna Kysten (‘Servant of the People 2’), Olesia Zhurakivska (series ‘Early Swallows’) and Oleksandr Rudynskyi (‘Rhino’). Their characters are a collective image of the real people and true stories that the director has seen and heard during the war.
Yeva Strelnikova chose the Screenlife format ‘not only because of the impossibility of finding enough funds for the classic scripted feature film during the war, but also because this war is taking place on laptops, phones and all social networks’.
Strelnikova tells in a Director Statement on FilmFreeway that social media is ‘our only opportunity to find out if a person dear to you is alive, whether he died under rockets, whether his car was not shot. Stay Online, for me, is not only a call to get in touch, but also about how to stay alive’.
Production of the film started four months after the full-scale invasion began, and the script was written by director Yeva Strelnikova together with Anton Skrypets when russian troops had not yet left Bucha.
On the Fantasia Film Festival website, Canadian director and writer Vincenzo Nappi (‘First Bite’, ‘Is Your Daughter Home?’) called the film ‘the first Ukrainian feature film to have been shot since the beginning of the ongoing russian invasion’ and compared it to Aneesh Chaganty’s Screenlife thriller ‘Searching’ and Mick Jackson’s British TV documentary about a catastrophic nuclear war, ‘Threads’.
The Fantasia International Fantastic Film Festival has been held in Montreal since 1996. Its program consists of world genre films and features major Canadian premieres. The festival’s mission is to popularize auteur and low-budget films, discover new names and help young directors.
Fantasia Film Festival premieres include Daniel Stamm’s ‘The Last Exorcism’, Don Mancini’s ‘Curse of Chucky’ and Neil Marshall’s ‘The Reckoning’.