Ukraine’s Film.UA has closed a raft of deals during the Cannes Market, as the production and distribution heavyweight has defiantly continued to do business on the Croisette despite the ongoing war back home.
Headlining the company’s Cannes slate is “Mavka. The Forest Song,” an animated feature about a magical spirit who’s responsible for protecting the forest from the outside world but faces her greatest challenge when she falls in love with a human.
Manymore Films will be releasing the film in theaters across Scandinavia and has also acquired the rights to other projects in the Film.UA catalog. Feelgood Entertainment has acquired the rights to “Mavka” and is planning a theatrical release in Greece. Filmbridge has also taken distribution rights for Mongolia for the animated feature and a slate of other titles in the Film.UA catalog.
Though the Russian invasion disrupted production, the film is expected to be delivered this fall with its international rollout planned for 2023.
“The ‘Mavka’ team was based in Kyiv (and the whole company as well), and when the war began the team continued working from their homes, bomb shelters and basements,” said international sales assistant Kateryna Nahorna. “As soon as it was possible all the needed facilities for post-production were moved to the west of Ukraine. Some members have moved to Europe and continue working remotely.”
In another pact inked in Cannes, Mares Filmes has taken Latin America rights to “The Rising Hawk,” a historical action film set in the 13th century that follows the inhabitants of a village in the Carpathian Mountains who must defend it against an invading Mongolian army.
“We are happy to see that people across the globe see the value of Ukrainian content, and our latest contracts prove it,” said Evgeniy Drachov, CEO of Film.UA Distribution. “Our aim for this market was to represent the variety of films that we have, and we are beyond grateful to our partners for supporting our country through distributing our projects in their territories, introducing our characters, stories and thus our values to their viewers.”
Located on the outskirts of Kyiv, Film.UA has faced a dramatic upheaval during the war. As Variety previously reported, the company was celebrating the premiere of one of its major releases, “The Big Picnic,” on the eve of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. Projects filming in its soundstages were immediately put on hold, while the studio housed in an old, repurposed factory building soon became a shelter for refugees.
The company has nevertheless continued to wrap productions and take fresh titles to the market, where Film.UA execs have been warmly received. “It will be a lie to say that continuing working right now is easy, but when we get such a welcoming response from the market and our partners, it inspires us to go on,” said Nahorna. “It is incredible to know that regardless of these horrible times, movies like ‘Mavka’ will once again remind people of the importance of kindness and hopefully will make our youngest audience smile.”