About the film
July 1968. Soviet spy Illiya Bakalov is abducted and interrogated about the murder of a British diplomat. His memory badly affected by the drugs used to sedate him, he must try to piece together what happened and find a way to protect his fellow operative Blackbird from capture.
Through flashback we see the events that led up to his capture. During his assignment in London, Illiya ignores his orders and inexplicably murders the diplomat. Blackbird and Illiya attempt to flee in a car, they crash and Blackbird disappears. As the questioning continues Illiya begins to realise that the interrogators seem to know more than they are letting on. His only goal now is to find out why he killed the diplomat and save Blackbird.
From the director
"ULTRA is a paranoid Cold War thriller, set in 1968 at the height of tensions between the two great world powers. The Vietnam war was raging, Russia invaded Czechoslovakia and terrorism swept the world with plane hijackings, bombings and assassinations. During this chaos the US embarked on an ambitious scientific program called MKULTRA that sought the ability to completely gain control over an individual, entirely robbing them of free will - the real life inspiration for The Manchurian Candidate.
Many of the issues raised at and around the time that ULTRA is set have become relevant again. Terrorism is again at the forefront of the world stage, our civil liberties are being eroded and war seems a near constant event. Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition and the Snowdon revelations have undermined our trust in governments. ULTRA is an exploration of these themes and will create an authentic world that draws audiences in, allowing them to find the parallels between our contemporary fears and the paranoia of the Cold War."
Meet the team
Writer and director Matthew Hoad Robson
Matthew is a partner and award-winning Creative Director at Brickwall, with over fifteen years' experience creating films, adverts, corporates and virals for a wide variety of clients including Nissan, NSPCC, Cancer Research UK, London 2012 and Greenpeace. Awards include IVCA Best Digital Communication Silver, IVCA Best Animation Highly Commended, Design Council Beyond 2012, and winner of Corporate Comms Magazine Best Use of Video 2014. Matthew has worked with agencies including LBi, FleishmanHillard, WCRS, McCann-Erickson, Havas and talent including Michael Sheen, Rutger Hauer, David Walliams and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard. When not at work or busy coming up with silly ideas, he can be found playing tennis.
Writer Rose Lewenstein
Rose studied Performance Arts at the Central School of Speech & Drama. She has been a member of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and their subsequent groups, including the 2012 Supergroup. Her first play Ain't No Law Against Fish 'N' Chips received a staged reading at the Royal Court Young Writers Festival. Other theatre includes: Now This is Not the End (Arcola Theatre), Game of Life (Yard Theatre), Only Human (Theatre 503) and Entries on Love (Rich Mix). Her latest play Psychoslut was featured in the Women@RADA season. Her next play Darknet will premiere at Southwark Playhouse in 2016. Rose is also developing various ideas and treatments for TV drama and film.
Producer Jacob Thomas
Jacob Thomas is a producer from New Zealand based in London. At university he studied law and film, while working on treatments for television commercials. After graduating Jacob worked with top NZ commercial directors and in the camera department. This experience led to directing and producing music videos. In 2015 Jacob graduated with an MA in Producing from the National Film and Television School. His short films have won or been nominated for numerous awards. He is currently developing film and television projects with Matthew Hoad-Robson, Eva Riley, Phil Sheerin, and Daniel Montanarini.