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HBO acquires Ukrainian war drama 'Bad Roads'

December 22, 2021 8:52 pmby Daryna Antoniuk
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Ukrainian playwright and filmmaker Natalya Vorozhbit receives an award at the Kyiv Critics Week film festival for her directorial debut, war drama "Bad Roads," on Oct. 23, 2020. (Natalka Vorozhbyt/Facebook)

U.S. pay television network HBO has acquired the Ukrainian war drama “Bad Roads,” directed by acclaimed playwright and filmmaker Natalya Vorozhbit.

The film is now available in original Ukrainian and Russian languages, with English subtitles on HBO's streaming platform HBO Go, but only in Central Europe, according to the film's Dec. 16 announcement.

The original film consists of five short stories taking place in Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas as Russia’s war continues to destroy the area. However, HBO bought the shorter version of the movie that consists of four stories.

In this "international" edition, Vorozhbit cut a story about a Ukrainian medic who’s driving her lover’s body out from the warzone. According to Vorozhbit, the U.K.-based company Reason 8 that distributed "Bad Roads" asked to cut the fifth story because it's "too dark and too long."

The original version of "Bad Roads" is available on three Ukrainian streaming services Takflix, OLL.TV and SWEET.TV. Neither of HBO's streaming services is available in Ukraine.

“Bad Roads” has been well received internationally before HBO's acquisition. It premiered in September 2020 at the Venice Film Festival, receiving an award for “best innovative work.” In September, the Ukrainian Oscar Committee nominated Vorozhbit's drama to represent Ukraine at the 94th Academy Awards. The movie didn't eventually make it to the Oscar's shortlist.

“Bad Roads” is based on Vorozhbit's eponymous 2017 play that takes a close-up look at how the war affects people and the relationships between them. The director's inside knowledge about life in the Donbas comes from years of research for her screenplay for a 2017 war drama “Cyborgs” and her documentary theater work.

The movie was mostly financed by the Ukrainian Cultural Fund, a state organization that supports national culture and art. The movie’s production cost Hr 13.5 million ($500,000.)

Daryna Antoniuk
Author: Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk studies journalism and communications at Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv. Antoniuk worked as a news editor, social media manager, and freelance journalist before she joined the Kyiv Post staff in February 2020. She is passionate about information technologies and artificial intelligence.