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Tuesday 3 October 2023


Prominent UK/US production company Lightbox, co-founded by Academy Award-winner Simon Chinn (known for "Man on Wire" and "Searching for Sugar Man") and Emmy Award-winner Jonathan Chinn (recognized for "LA 92" and "Tina"), is currently in the production phase of a high-quality three-part documentary series for Sky Documentaries. This series unveils the remarkable narrative of a collective of young women from various parts of the world who unite to expose a predatory Italian policeman.

Adapted from the popular podcast, "Verified," the documentary series titled "Bad Host: Hunting the Couchsurfing Predator" is being created in collaboration with Scripps and the esteemed global film and TV studio FIFTH SEASON. FIFTH SEASON will also manage worldwide distribution rights and is set to introduce the series to potential buyers at MIPCOM 2023.

The storyline follows the journey of a group of exceptional young women, unbeknownst to each other, who fell prey to a predator. This predator enticed them to stay with him by utilizing Couchsurfing, a website connecting travelers with reliable hosts offering free accommodations. As they discovered each other's stories online, these young women united and engaged in a relentless battle over six years, often facing apathy in their respective home countries, to bring this predator to justice.

Originating from diverse locations like California, Australia, and Portugal, each young woman's aspiration for a perfect trip to some of the world's renowned cities took a dark turn when they sought a place to stay on the widely used Couchsurfing platform. They were captivated by the seemingly trustworthy profile of 'Leonardo,' an active Italian police officer with glowing reviews on his profile. Each of them accepted his offer for a night's stay.

Initially, 'Leonardo' appeared to be the ideal host, generously guiding them through the city, preparing meals, and offering homemade Italian wine. However, upon leaving his residence, they felt confused, disoriented, and plagued by disturbing flashbacks.

Upon returning home, some of these women attempted to move on until they received unexpected messages online, from strangers who had also fallen victim to 'Leonardo.' Many of them had unsuccessfully attempted to report him. Gradually, through a secret Facebook group, these women, now connected, realized the extent of 'Leonardo's' sexual abuse and rape against at least five women, as well as drugging at least 15 individuals. It came to light that he had also faced accusations of sexually assaulting a minor. What initially began as a platform to share experiences transformed into a strategic discussion on how to ensure the perpetrator faced justice, unfolding into a riveting tale of courage and determination against all odds.

"Bad Host: Hunting the Couchsurfing Predator" offers exclusive access to numerous extraordinary women who were part of this group. When they visited Italy, they were in their teens and early twenties. The documentary unfolds the story of their relentless six-year pursuit for justice, providing an intimate, detailed, and compelling firsthand account.

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