Documentary ‘Fixing the War,’ an Award Winner at Visions du Réel, Focuses on the Role of News Fixers in Ukraine: ‘It Is a Messy and Dangerous Business’

On Wednesday, “Fixing the War,” about news fixers in Ukraine, won the Special Eurimages Co-production Development Award at Swiss documentary festival Visions du Réel. It was one of 15 projects selected in this year’s edition of VdR-Pitching, the event’s international co-production and financing platform. Variety accompanied the team as they pitched to potential partners.

The film’s producers Gary Lennon of Plainsong Films and Oleksandra Kravchenko of Moon Man were in Nyon to pitch the film, which is directed by Clare Stronge and Vadym Ikov. “Fixing the War” was pitched as the first film to show the vital role of local field producers, otherwise known as “fixers” in the journalism community – locals hired to help a journalist working in a foreign country navigate everything from logistics to translations or safety issues.

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The pair started with a 12-minute pitch to a room full of industry professionals, during which they outlined their project and illustrated it with a clip.

Stronge, who is currently on a shoot, described her intention in a recorded video message, explaining why she wanted to team up with Ikov and Kravchenko, herself a former fixer when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

“One of the busiest jobs in Ukraine right now is fixing. Because we live in this age of disinformation, it is interesting to empower audiences to understand. [To do this] we needed a Ukrainian director and producer, not foreigners. It is a messy and dangerous business.”

A co-creation between Stronge’s Plainsong Films and Kyiv-based Moon Man (“A House Made of Splinters”), the film will combine observational documentary-style footage of fixers on the ground with frontline footage and intimate interviews.

“Fixing the War” is supported by Screen Ireland and the Irish film tax break and is in late development. The team hopes to plug the 25% funding gap, with a release date scheduled for the second half of 2025.

Following the morning pitching sessions, every project team was invited to a series of five intensive 20-minute roundtable sessions with industry professionals, which included buyers, commissioners and potential co-producers.

Asked what they took away from the experience, both were enthusiastic.

“The roundtables take place right after the pitch, so our presentation was still fresh in their minds,” Kravchenko told Variety. “This was our first big public presentation, which was important because we’ve been working on the film for just over a year, and we need a reality-check with the industry: Do they like the project? How will they react to it? We were glad to see that it went really well, and we hope collaborations will come out of it, because our goal is to close the budget gap and move forward with production.”

The roundtables were followed the next day by a series of one-to-one 15-minute meetings with decision-makers, set up by the VdR-Industry team to match projects with potential partners. The team from “Fixing the War” had no fewer than 20 meetings over two days, and was heading to another after speaking to Variety on Wednesday, the fourth and final day of Vdr-Industry.

Asked whether the talks had helped define their project, Lennon was upbeat. “You go into this with a certain amount of fear that you’re going to be grilled. But there was a very positive feeling: rather than trying to find holes in our project, they asked for clarifications – about our characters, the stylistic elements of the film – this gave us a chance to explain all of this. It was very useful,” he said. “When you work on your own, you don’t know if what you’re doing is right, so it gave us a lot of confidence. We started talking about how we could work together, it was incredibly encouraging!”

Visions du Réel runs in Nyon until April 21.

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