Leading Belgian filmmaker Koen Mortier is embarking on an ambitious new Netflix-backed documentary series about the Second World War.
Liberation Route will be a 12-part, English-language series and is being made through Czar – the production company behind Berlinale Encounters title Naked Animals.
It marks the first project to receive financing from Netflix since a law was passed in Belgium requiring the streaming giant to invest 2% of its income from subscriptions in Flanders into Flemish content. Netflix will provide 40% of the total budget.
The project has also secured Belgian Tax Shelter funding, a presale to Telenet and support from distributor Dutch FilmWorks.
Mortier, who co-wrote and directed crime drama Ex Drummer, is working with a team of researchers to assemble thousands of wartime letters from young participants on every side, including soldiers, resistance fighters and civilians.
One episode will tell the story of Fortitude South, the elaborate hoax which involved the Allied forces using thousands of plastic boats and tanks to convince the Germans they were going to invade from Dover.
Mortier is targeting the series at a young audience of 18-30s who, he believes, no longer know the history of the war. Presenters are expected to include young actors, sports figures and musicians, all of whom have a personal connection to the war.
“The war is all about young people fighting and dying,” said the director of its relevance to a younger audience.
“As Europe becomes very nationalistic, a lack of (knowledge) of history becomes part of that choice in voters. Voters, especially young people who vote for nationalistic parties, should learn more about history. They should see what happened in the war and how many nationalities helped one another.”
It is being produced by Mortier’s regular partner, Eurydice Gysel, and shooting will begin in the autumn. The producers may also look to spin off a theatrical cut from the series and are considering using VR to create an educational tool around the project.
By Geoffrey Macnab