Short Documentary ‘Note of Defiance’ to Debut November 29th on Amazon Prime

15 November 2023







NOTE OF DEFIANCE trailer debut here.


LOS ANGELES, (November 15, 2023) – Mercury Studios and Stept Studios today announced that NOTE OF DEFIANCE, Brian Henderson’s award-winning short documentary that explores two artists’ use of their creativity and art as a means of cultural survival amidst Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, will drop November 29, 2023 on Amazon Prime.

Filmed in early 2023 on the Ukrainian-Russian border, NOTE OF DEFIANCE explores two artists’ use of their creativity and art as a means of cultural survival and defiance. In Kharkiv, Ukraine, just 40km from the Russian border, attacks on civilian centers have forced cultural sites to close, including The Kharkiv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, one of the most significant venues in the nation. Two inspiring artists, ballet dancer Roman Taraneko and violinist Vera Lytovchenko continue to provide concerts and lessons anywhere they can, from parking garages to bomb shelters in order to keep their culture from being erased. Through powerful interviews, we learn of the unique challenges artists have faced during this conflict, from censorship and persecution, to displacement and trauma. The film concludes with an emotional performance where music and dance are brought together in the damaged but not forgotten theatre for the first time in nearly a year.

Earlier this year, NOTE OF DEFIANCE received the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival Grand Prize for Best Short Documentary and screened as an official selection at the International Film Festival The Hague.

Mercury Studios and Stept Studios present, a Brian Henderson film, NOTE OF DEFIANCE. Directed by Henderson and executive produced by Landon LaRue, Davey Spens, Sarah Steward and Alice Webb, the short documentary runs 15 minutes. Henderson, Meredith Rodriguez, Charles McBryde, Nick Martini, Mack Woodruff, Dan Borrelli and Holly Adams are the producers. The original score is by Oleta Haffner and Brady Darrah is the editor. Henderson and Mack Woodruff serve as cinematographers. Shot in both the Ukrainian and Russian languages, the film is subtitled in English.

For NOTE OF DEFIANCE, Mercury Studios and Stept Studios have also partnered with Sunflower Network to raise money for the people of Ukraine. Sunflower Network is an NGO that has delivered over $3.5M of life-saving aid to Ukrainians in need by quickly responding to evolving needs on the ground.  “We are honored to partner with NOTE OF DEFIANCE as the work embodies who we are as an organization,” says Sunflower Network Founder and CEO, Dustin Ross. “Sunflower Network is about action, not just activism. It is important that we don’t just consume these powerful stories, but also use them as a call to take action.”

“It was important for me to provide a platform for the people most affected by the war, especially those in eastern Ukraine living in constant danger and under threat of occupation,” director/producer/cinematographer Brian Henderson states. “I had seen many powerful films about Ukrainian refugees displaced throughout Europe, but very few films were being made in Ukraine, especially east of the Dnipro River. I wanted to amplify the voices of those who stayed in the East, and their willingness to share their stories is truly humbling. What we created in Kharkiv is truly special, and I can’t wait for the world to see it.”

“We are incredibly honored to help share Vera and Roman’s inspiring story of hope and perseverance with the world, writer/producer Dan Borrelli, SVP Mercury Studios adds. “There are countless artists who remain in dangerous conditions to this day in order keep their culture, and communities, strong. These artists use music as a tool for perseverance, to keep their language alive, and inspire hope throughout the world. We felt it was important their voices be heard by as many people as possible.”



Mercury Studios is a full-service production studio. Current and recent projects include Telluride Film Festival selections American Symphony, a feature documentary by award-winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman that follows Jon Batiste for the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions and Netflix and If These Walls Could Sing, the untold story of the world-famous Abbey Road Studios directed by celebrated British photographer and filmmaker Mary McCartney for Disney+; “My Life as a Rolling Stone,” a four-part docuseries of intimate portraits of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts for the BBC and MGM+; Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, a career documentary about the superstar currently available on Netflix; Mixtape, the critically acclaimed  feature documentary from Omar Acosta focused on the DJs and artists who shaped the sound and culture of Hip-Hop through mixtapes for Paramount+;  and the forthcoming “This Town,” a six-part series for the BBC from writer, creator, and executive producer Steven Knight. Mercury Studios also produced “Sam Smith Live at the Royal Albert Hall” (BBC/Tik Tok) and Billie Eilish’s livestream event, “Overheated,” at The 02 London and the upcoming “Lang Lang Plays Disney” for Disney+. Editorially independent, Mercury Studios is powered by Universal Music Group and represents the world’s leading catalogue of music-related content, consisting of thousands of hours of premium music-driven film and television programming.



Stept Studios is an award-winning full service production company that develops and produces commercials, unscripted series, shorts and feature-length documentaries. Best known for telling extraordinary stories that capture human capacity across sports, culture and the arts. Stept represents the next generation of storytelling, directors, editors, filmmakers and brand builders with offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Jackson Hole.

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