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Shout! Factory Nabs North American Rights to Ukrainian Animation ‘Mavka. The Forest Song,’ Drops Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)
By Christopher Vourlias,
Shout! Factory has acquired North American rights to “Mavka. The Forest Song,” an animated feature from Ukraine ’s Animagrad Studio, and has released the film’s international trailer, which Variety can share exclusively.
The buzzy animation, which closed a raft of deals for Film.UA Distribution after its Cannes market premiere last year, is the story of 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.
The escapades of the titular heroine, who is drawn from classic Ukrainian literature, unfold in a universe that blends ancient Slavic myths and legends with a modern narrative and innovative 3D animation technology.
“Mavka. The Forest Song,” which will premiere theatrically in Ukraine on March 2, is nothing short of a triumph for the Film.UA Group , which owns Animagrad Studio, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year disrupted production on “Mavka” and a slate of other titles.
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 attack. 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 “Mavka” team continued to work from their homes and from bomb shelters in the Ukrainian capital. Some later fled to Europe and continued to work on the ambitious animated project remotely.
Film.UA execs said interest in the film has been high since the first teaser was presented at the Annecy International Animation Festival in 2017. It was selected to pitch two years in a row at Cartoon Movie in Bordeaux, a leading European event for animation, which “Mavka. The Forest Song” will open this year.
Film.UA Distribution has closed deals in more than 20 countries and is planning to release the film theatrically in Ukraine on March 2, along with simultaneous releases in North Africa and the Middle East. Further confirmed releases include France (March 29), Australia (Apr. 6), Italy (Apr. 20), and Spain and Andorra (Apr. 28), with releases in Poland, the Baltics, Israel, the Netherlands and Turkey scheduled for later this year.
“Our partners are attracted by the quality of animation, a universal story, a combination of lyrics and humor and music,” said Evgeniy Drachov, CEO of Film.UA Distribution. “‘Mavka. The Forest Song’ has all the makings of a family animation success, and sales in a large number of territories show that our opinion is shared by professionals all over the world. We hope that the audience will like ‘Mavka. The Forest Song,’ because the story of love and struggle for one’s world should resonate with people all over the world.”
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