Production company United Heroes is producing the feature film adaptation of Live, Fight, Survive, the autobiographical book from English soldier Shaun Pinner who was taken prisoner during the Ukraine war.

Chips Hardy (BBC’s Taboo) is signed to write the screen adaptation of the film, titled The English Warrior (working title).

During nine years in the British Army, Shaun Pinner was deployed on operations around the world, and trained in survival, evasion, resistance and escape. When Pinner fell in love with and married a Ukrainian woman, the couple made their home in Mariupol. Missing the camaraderie and purpose he’d relished in the Royal Anglian Regiment he joined his adopted country’s military as a sniper instructor.

Four years later, the section he led was on the frontline when Vladimir Putin’s forces launched their invasion. Outnumbered and outgunned in the fiercest fighting seen in Europe since the end of the Second World War, Pinner’s troops staged a fighting retreat back to Mariupol with his Marine platoon to join the remarkable, defiant last stand that captured the world’s imagination.

At the height of the battle after several weeks of fighting and encirclement, in a final call to his wife, she urged him to ‘Live. Fight. Survive’. Ordered by President Zelensky to save themselves, his platoon made a break for it. The enemy was waiting and Pinner was captured.

Over the months that followed, the former British soldier required every ounce of strength, resolve, ingenuity and dark humour to see him and his fellow prisoners of war through the savage mental and physical toll meted out by his ruthless captors. But he refused to be broken.

English novelist, playwright and screenwriter Edward “Chips” Hardy is writing the screenplay adaptation. Hardy’s work includes the BBC One drama series Taboo, starring his son Tom Hardy, for which he earned the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain award for Best Long Form TV Drama in 2018.

Producer and co-founder of United Heroes, Egor Olesov will produce the film. Olesov’s credits include “Mr. Jones” (starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard), “The Rising Hawk(starring Robert Patrick, Tommy Flanagan), “Mavka. The Forest Song”, “The Battle of Sevastopol”. Egor Olesov will work alongside producers Johannes Boesiger (Fly Little Bird, The Forgotten) and for line producing Alexa Waugh (Three Day Millionaire, Matriarch) to develop and make the feature film.

Chips Hardy, screenwriter, comments, “It’s an extraordinary story of human resilience from a war that is right on our doorstep. A war fought on social media alongside fields and streets, when even mobile phones have been weaponised. Shaun and his wife Larysa’s experiences show how just quickly and easily everyday life can be devastated by forces completely beyond our control.”

Shaun Pinner, author, says “I am very excited about the story coming to life on film; I set out initially to spread the word of how Ukrainian prisoners are being tortured and treated, and to highlight the suffering caused by Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The genocide being committed by Russia in places like Bucha, Irpin and my home, Mariupol, should never be forgotten, and I hope my story adds to the understanding of what is actually going on in Ukraine from a ground level perspective and first hand experience. I am also grateful to everybody who has helped me achieve this goal.”

Producer and co-founder of United Heroes, Egor Olesov “Shaun’s story is an incredibly raw account of human resilience in the face of the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. When we heard what Shaun had been through and his extraordinary spirit despite this, it felt essential that his story be shared with the world. And further to this, that the wilful destruction of an independent country taking place right now is never forgotten. We are deeply thankful to Shaun for allowing us to tell his story onscreen, and to Chips and the team for coming on board this unique project.”

Jon Creamer

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