Ukrainian animation at Annecy: National stand, ‘Mavka’ screening, and TV series pitching

Ukrainian Animation will be participating in the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market (MIFA) in France for the seventh consecutive year. The global annual festival scheduled from 11 to 17 June, will feature a variety of activities dedicated to Ukraine’s animation industry.

As a part of this event, Ukrainian Animation Stand (C.21) will be set up, a special screening of the animated film Mavka: The Forest Song will be showcased, and a pitching session for Ukrainian animated TV series will take place. To further foster networking and partnership opportunities, a cocktail reception at the Ukrainian Stand will be organised, enabling delegates from the global professional community to engage with Ukrainian representatives and learn more about cooperation opportunities.

This year, Ukraine’s presence in Annecy is made possible through the support of the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine and is organised by Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival LINOLEUM and Ukrainian Animation Association. The project’s partner is Media Resources Management. As a gesture of support for Ukraine, the organisers have generously provided a stand and accreditations free of charge for Ukrainian delegates.

On the opening day of the festival, 11 June at 8:00 pm, the organisers have taken the initiative to present a special screening of the animated film Mavka: The Forest Song as part of the festival’s renowned section known as Open Air Screenings. This event will take place at the Pâquier, adjacent to a lake, where a large outdoor screen will be set up. Mavka will be the first Ukrainian cartoon to be featured at this occasion throughout the festival’s existence.

On the first day of the MIFA market, 13 June at 3:00 pm, Ukraine cordially invites everyone interested to learn more about the country’s projects and meet with members of the delegation at Stand C.21.

Within the MIFA Business Conference, a panel discussion on ‘Understanding the Ecosystem of Independent Animation Studios: Strategic Issues and Editorial Positioning’ awaits attendees on 15 June at 9:00 am in Salle Europe at the Imperial Palace hotel. Joining the panellists will be Iryna Kostyuk, the producer behind the Mavka: The Forest Song, providing insights into the unparalleled box office success of the project both domestically and internationally.

As part of the Partners Pitch program, on 15 June at 6:00 pm (Haendel, 5th floor, Imperial Palace), a pitching session for five Ukrainian animated TV series will take place. The names include:

1. MAVKA. The Series, directed by Oleh Malamuzh, ANIMAGRAD Studio

2. School for Little Monsters, directed by Roman Kepkalo, Yarki Studio

3. Darling Zhu, directed by Anatoliy Lavrenishyn, anima.toll

4. Illogical Adult World, directed by Iryna Harkavets, Svit Neznaiky

5. Yoyo. A Toy Turned into a Rebel, directed by Feldman Sisters, Phalanstery Films

Review: ‘The Stolen Princess’ reinforces the power of love that prevails all

A fairytale is generally incomplete until a knight comes on a horse and sweeps a damsel off her feet. And that’s what The Stolen Princess is all about.

Based on the fairy tale ‘Ruslan and Lyudmila’ (1820) by Russian poet Aleksander Pushkin, The Stolen Princess is a Ukrainian fantasy film that tells a simple story in a delightful manner that has done quite well in 3D. In fact, it is the first Ukrainian film to be distributed in India dubbed in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

‘The Stolen Princess’

Presented by Ultra Media, the film is a proper mix of fantasy, romance, humour and action. For the generation to which it is targeted, it serves the purpose pretty well. In the initial part, Mila, a princess and a rebel escapes from the castle when her father tries to marry her off forcibly. She then bumps into a wandering troubadour, Ruslan who dreams of becoming a knight some day. Together, they try living an adventurous life and love starts to bloom between the two.

It’s all rosy until Chornomor, the wicked, evil sorcerer from the fairy tale Ruslan thinks doesn’t exist, kidnaps Mila. Chornomor has a weakness wherein he needs to replenish his magical power in ways that aren’t easy to obtain. He kidnaps maidens to take their power of true love and vital energies by turning them into stones. After Mila is taken by him to his enchanted land, Ruslan embarks on the quest to rescue her, accompanied by his comrades.

(Clockwise: Fin, Chornomor, Lester, the hamster, the bird and the cat)

Though predictable, the characters are chalked out brilliantly bringing out the necessary humour throughout the film. The animation is stunningly refreshing and the characters look lively. There are no complex graphics used, but each frame is crafted to perfection.

Post interval, we witness some funny yet valorous acts from our protagonists as they face challenges and struggles to distinguish between appearance and reality. The main theme remains the same – Good triumphs over evil, always.

What caught our fancy, was the fight sequence with desserts. The apt use of each dessert item added with the smart use of witty dialogues, turned out to be an absolute win. The bird, the hamster, the cat that turns into a monster and the helpful wizard Fin, all of them made the film even more interesting with their presence, puns and actions at regular intervals.

The film looks nothing less than a Disney movie in its exuberance, grandeur, content-animation treatment and execution. Though, unlike recent Disney movies, the princess gets finally rescued by a man despite her being, strong-willed, feisty and intellectual who makes her kidnapper’s life hell by stealing his magic cap and being invisible; just as the fairy tale might have suggested.

The Stolen Princess has an amazing voice cast that includes Dan Edwards, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Marc Thompson, Dave Wills, Billy Bob Thompson, Tom Wayland, Jason Griffith, Jake Paque, Abe Goldfarb, Kate Bristol and Andrew Watts, who adds more essence and dimension to the film.

Helmed by Oleg Malamuzh, the film spreads across a bright canvas with a vivid palette of colours. The elusive flora and fauna, the magical wonderland, the stone gem, the frog princess as well as the giant warrior, adds versatility and vibrance to the feature.

The Stolen Princess that hit the big screens on 24 August 2018, is a complete feast to kids and animation lovers alike at the end. Though dull at few moments, the film manages to hit the right chords and have done a good job in making us believe that love is stronger than all the strongest forces on earth, even magic!

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