For the First Time Since the War Began, a Feature Film Is Shooting in Ukraine

‘The Day I Met Spider-Man,’ the story of a war volunteer who discovers she has supernatural powers, is shooting in several Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv and Lviv.

Many in Ukraine thought they’d never hear “Action!” again after the Russian army’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 immediately shut down film production across the country. While some nonfiction projects continued —many Ukrainian filmmakers began documenting crimes and atrocities committed by the invading troops — producing a feature film in the middle of a war zone seemed impossible.

No longer.

Since early May, Ukrainian shingle Mamas Production has been shooting the feature The Day I Met Spider-Man in and around several Ukrainian cities, including Lviv, Kyiv and Irpin. The project, jointly backed by the Organization of Ukrainian Producers (OUP) and AMO Pictures, is the first fiction film to start production since the war began.

The plot of the film follows a war volunteer who discovers supernatural powers within her that enable her to save a boy from the massacre of Bucha, the suburb of Kyiv where, according to substantial photographic, video and satellite imagery evidence, Russian forces systematically murdered civilians as they withdrew from the city.

“You may know the story of Peter Parker, who became Spider-Man. You may have heard the story of Bruce Wayne wearing a Batman outfit. We will tell you the story of Katya — a volunteer who felt an inner superpower,” said Anton Skrypets, a co-producer on The Day I Met Spider-Man, who came up with the original idea for the film.

Elithaveta Zaitseva, Olexandr Rudynsky, Olesya Zhurakivska and Kateryna Kysen star in the movie, which is being shot documentary style on location in and around various Ukrainian cities.

The project is being made under the auspices of the OUP, a group of seven Ukrainian production companies set up in the wake of the Russian invasion whose original objective was to produce documentaries and educational films to show the world the causes of the war and the consequences of the Russian aggression on the ground.

“Being the first in war-torn Ukraine who shoot a fiction movie is a challenge for the OUP, originally the Organization was aimed at shooting documentaries,” notes Alla Lipovetska, co-founder of the OUP and Mamas Production. “When Anton came up with this tough but very lyrical story, it seemed crazy to start shooting a feature. But my confidence grew with each new day of the discussion [and] each new day of scriptwriting.”

The project became a reality when AMO Pictures, a digital production and distribution company that develops content mainly for online channels and platforms, came on board The Day I Met Spider-Man as a co-producer.

“This is the first feature film about the large-scale war of 2022,” said AMO Pictures COO Anatoly Dudinsky. “As a company in the creative sector, believe that our nation should portray its problems not only through a documentary prism but also through the experiences and emotions that you can discover thanks to the tools of a feature film.”

The producers plan to release The Day I Met Spider-Man across all possible platforms — from film festivals to cinemas, TV channels and streaming services — this fall.

The Hollywood Reporter