This 10-part Ukrainian drama is set during the early days of the Russian invasion in February 2022 and based on real events, following the impact of the war on Kyiv residents.
Each episode follows local therapist, Lydia, played by How is Katia? star Anastasia Karpenko, as she drives a different person to safety, with their stories of tragedy and resilience unfolding as they relate them in her car along the journey.
“The idea for the series arose suddenly, but many facts, reflections, random meetings and situations influenced its creation,” shares showrunner Eugen Tunik. “I remember exactly that I wrote the idea in the logline at the beginning of April 2022. That period – the beginning of the war – is remembered by many Ukrainians as the most terrible in their lives.”
Tunik tells TBI that he was inspired by his own experiences of being helped – and helping others – with residents of Kyiv offering people transportation in their cars due to the overcrowded stations.
“I was helped this way, I helped someone. Once I was driving to my mother, who lived in another city, and I remember exactly how I verbalized the idea of In Her Car. Shortly before that, I had a conversation with my psychologist, and probably the compilation of all these facts, experiences and thoughts formed the basis of the series.”
Tunik says that through the series he wanted to explore how war affects people’s outlook and beliefs. “The war showed that all the problems I had until February 24, 2022 are not as significant as I thought before. I called a few people I had a fight with earlier and apologized – and to my great surprise, they also asked for my forgiveness.
“The characters in our car are the personification of different people, in whom every viewer will be able to find something special. They go through a journey of transformation during the trip to understand what is most important in their lives.”
Over the course of the 10 episodes, the series explores themes of love, betrayal, loyalty, forgiveness, repentance. “All characters in the series are ambiguous. We will not see only good or only bad people,” notes Tunik. “Everyone has made mistakes in the past and is paying for them today.
“The series will raise a number of social issues relevant in Ukraine and Europe. For example, corruption, attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, men’s desire and unwillingness to serve in the army or the hardships of life as a refugee in a foreign country. Our present consists of these questions, and therefore I wanted to reflect them in an artistic form.”
Not only set, but filmed in wartime Kyiv, the series required some additional planning, with Tunik working around limited time for production due to the curfew and air alarms, extra safety measures and the needs of some of the staff and cast to leave the country.
Tunik says that with the input of the show’s international partners – it is co-produced with Gaumont, France Télévisions and ZDF and distributed by Beta Film – the series will be as “engaging for the European audience as much as it will be for local Ukrainian viewers.” He adds: “The show is unique due to the setting and the topics it raises, anyone who sees it won’t be left indifferent.”
Producer: Starlight Media and Gaumont, in co-production with France Télévisions and ZDF
Distributor: Beta Film
Broadcasters: STB (Ukraine), France Télévisions (France), ZDFneo (Germany)
Logline: A psychologist embarks on a journey to bring people to safety in Ukraine at the start of the war – one person at a time