Created by Eugen Tunick – who directs alongside Arkadii Nepytaliuk – and supported by ZDF, France Télévisions and all Nordic public broadcasters, and “In his car” sees therapist Lydia (Anastasia Karpenko) trying to divorce her husband. It’s February 2022 and the war has begun, but instead of following her daughter’s advice and fleeing the country, Lydia begins helping strangers, taking them to their destinations.
The show will have its world premiere on February 19 in Berlin as part of a special event dedicated to the future of Ukraine in Europe, organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
“The idea was to tell one story per episode: there is always a new passenger. That said, it was also essential to follow Lydia’s story, because it continues to develop throughout the entire season. One of these people may be able to help her solve a mystery that has been on her mind for the past eight years,” Tunick explained.
Lydia, who is brave, lost a sister. And soon she will have to address her trauma.
“In a moment, she also becomes a passenger. Usually she is silent and collected, but those walls will eventually come down.”
“In Her Car”, a Starlight Media and Gaumont production, was made in co-production with ZDFneo, France Télévisions, SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen in association with The Dreaming Sheep Company, SVT, DR, NRK, RUV and YLE.
“This war has changed us,” Tunick admitted.
“Suddenly, when someone needed help, they got it. When I had to travel with my family, every home along the way was open to us. “I can’t imagine this happening in ‘normal’ times.”
“Lydia is a savior and a helper – that’s how she survives. But we have to start talking about our traumas and problems, because that’s how they are treated. “It won’t happen overnight, it will take time, but we hope this series can guide people through this whole process.”
While staying close to reality, Tunick never wanted to make another documentary about the ongoing conflict.
“In Ukraine there are many discussions about this now. Do we have the right to talk about this war in a fictional way? “Some people say it’s time to make documentaries, but that’s not what I do,” he said.
“I think the main thing you have to ask yourself is this: ‘Do I have the right to talk about certain things?’ Personally, I don’t think I have the right to talk about what happened in Bucha or Mariupol. But I can talk about a woman who continues driving, because when the war started, I did exactly the same thing.”
In the show, Tunick decided to combine images of continuous violence with old fairy tales told by his protagonist.
“I wanted to bring something mystical to this horrible reality. These are our traditional folktales, but I had to rewrite them a bit to fit these individual stories. Lydia told them to her sister when they were little. She brings you back to her childhood, to something familiar, but now they get a new context: Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
Along the way, Lydia encounters not “heroes,” but ordinary people who desperately need her help. And, in most cases, her problems are quite common.
“When the war started, we were overwhelmed. But after a while it became clear that we still had to deal with our relatives, we still fought with our friends,” he stated.
“When I came up with these stories, I was wondering, ‘Will it be understandable in France and Germany and all these other countries?’ Can two sisters argue over their parents’ house in Paris? Can someone from Israel think about escaping the country, but her family asks them to stay? I hope international viewers say: ‘We have the same problems. We’re just lucky we don’t have a neighbor as horrible as Russia.’”
Still, he hopes “In Her Car” will draw attention to the conflict that is far from resolved.
“People are tired of this and it’s perfectly normal. But just because you don’t hear about it all the time anymore doesn’t mean this violence has stopped. This show is a little reminder of that,” she said.
“We still need your help. That’s why we had to publish it now: it’s a time of crisis. We feel the support of the people, but not like we felt at the beginning. But we are still here and we continue fighting, and not just for ourselves.”