“Cryptoqueen – The OneCoin Scam,” which makes its market debut at Mipcom in Cannes, chronicles the story of the fake cryptocurrency and its charismatic founder who stole up to $15 billion from trusting investors.
Produced by Emmy-award-winning production company A&O Buero and sold internationally by Java Films, the documentary follows Ruja Ignatova, OneCoin’s founder, who hyped the cryptocurrency at rallies that resembled religious gatherings. Ignatova claimed that OneCoin was on course to become the world’s biggest digital currency and change life on Earth, describing it as the cryptocurrency for the poor, a currency that would turn paupers into princes. It was a giant fraud, however, and only turned Ignatova into the Cryptoqueen.
Ignatova threw lavish champagne parties and bought luxury properties around the world before she suddenly disappeared without a trace — and after defrauding investors of an estimated $15 billion. The Times described it as “one of the biggest scams in history.”
Ignatova’s whereabouts remain unknown. Despite the deception, and Ignatova’s addition to the F.B.I. and Europol’s most wanted lists, many investors continue to believe in OneCoin.
Director Johan von Mirbach felt a personal connection to the story, noting that Ignatova grew up in Germany just a few kilometers away from his hometown in the Black Forest.
“As soon as I heard about her, I was interested,” he said. “I know that region, I know how those people tick. Education is good; unemployment is low. It is a place where society still works.
“And then there was Ruja, who could never get enough, who went to school in red lipstick and a dress, while everybody else was running around in lumberjack shirts and ripped jeans listening to Nirvana. She was already talking about plans to buy her own island one day. She made herself alien from the beginning. And that makes ‘The Cryptoqueen’ so special. She was something special: smart, willing to win, to conquer the world. She could have been successful in so many legal ways. But she wasn’t. I wanted to know why she turned evil.”
“Crytpoqueen” was commissioned by Franco-German channel Arte and regional German broadcaster WDR. Java is selling it both as a single film and as a TV series.
The title marks the latest collaboration between the international doc distributor and the Cologne and Hamburg-based A&O Buero — the companies have been working together for more than a decade. Java has also represented von Mirbach’s recent films, including “Smoke & Fumes – The Climate Change Cover-Up.”
The sales company has seen strong sales for a number of current docs, including its billionaire space race title “Musk vs Bezos: The New Star Wars,” “Ukraine: The Road to War” and “Erasmus in Gaza.”
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