Eight grades of hope

The 2018 year is over. It was a good year for Ukrainian cinema – with numerous premieres, awards at prestigious festivals, sometimes with the decent box office. But now it’s time to ask – what to expect in 2019? Will it be better? Thus, we prepared for the readers of Opinion the list of the most anticipated national premieres of the next season.

Winter of the Braves

Historical-patriotic cinema is the favorite direction of our film officials and potentially the most grossing genre under the circumstances where the rest of the genres haven’t been yet learned how to implement. The project Winter of the Braves became one of the winners of the Ninth Competition of the Ukrainian State Film Agency in the session of thematic feature films (to the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Kruty) and received UAH 26 million of the state support with the total budget of UAH 52 million. The scale of the project is evidenced by the production statistics: the shooting started in Mezhyhiria where the French locations of the film were reproduced. They were shot in winter 2017 with the use of pyrotechnic effects, with the participation of background actors, animals and stuntmen.

Main locations were established in Kyiv – Sophia Square, Kyiv fortress, the city streets. The Kruty station has been shot in Syhnaivka, Cherkasy region. In total, more than 1,000 actors (including 150 militants of the Ukrainian National Guard) and 2,000 weapons are involved. The plot is built on the relationship between brothers, fallen in love with one girl but the war breaks into in this traditional triangle.

Starring: Oleksandr Piskunov (Cyborgs (2017)), Oleksiy Trytenko (Haytarma (2012)), Roman Yasynivsky (Cyborgs (2017), TV series Under the Laws of War), Bohdan Yusypchuk (Synevyr, The Shades of Forgotten Ancestors (both 2013)), Ostap Stupka.

The forecast for the success of the film is cautious, because the director is Oleksiy Shaparev, under whose belt is an unremarkable TV series Guards.

The release date of The Winter of Braves starts on February 7.


This project has all chances to become one of the central events of the season start since its author is Ukraine’s big friend, one of the leading filmmakers of Europe, honoree of numerous festival prizes, the classic of Polish cinema – Krzysztof Zanussi.

The film is held in the mystery thriller genre and, according to the remarks of the director himself, it is based on the legend about the doctor Faust.

The protagonist of the story is a military doctor who carries out dangerous experiments with ether. His aim is to gain power over people. The plot unfolds at the beginning of the First World War first in the Russian Empire, then in the Austria-Hungary to which Ukraine belonged at that time. There’s the motive of spying. The source of conflict is an old, rational as Europen consciousness, challenge of a proud researcher to the forces of being.

This novel Faust was played by Jacek Poniedziałek. The role of the guard of the Austro-Hungary fortress was performed by another Polish star – Andrzej Chyra. The film cast: Zsolt László, Ostap Vakuliuk, Maria Ryaboshapka, Stanislav Kolokolnikov, Rafal Mohr, Małgorzata Pritulak, Oleksandr Loginov and Ostap Stupka.

Ether was financed by Ukraine (16 million from the State Film Agency), Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Italy. The production started in August 2017. The shooting in Ukraine lasted from September 1 during the week at two locations: in Lviv (Prison at Lontskoho Street and Kryvonos Street) and in Svirzh. There was no shortage of pyrotechnic effects, horses, stuntmen and extras.

By the way, this is the second Polish-Ukrainian film of Zanussi: in his former work Heart in Hand (2008) where one of the main roles was performed by Bohdan Stupka.

The world premiere of Ether took place in October 2018 in the program of the Rome international festival.

Release date in Ukraine is scheduled for February 21.

Swingers 2

The sequel of erotic comedy Swingers will be again shot by the Latvian Andreis Ekis. Swingers 2 are marked respectively as an Ukrainian-Latvian product. In the sequel, the protagonist, a businessman Ihor (Mykhailo Kukuiuk) faces a serious problem: he loses potency, so his wife Ilona (Olya Polyakova) is ready for everything in order to make him happier. Role plays, lessons of tantric sex and even the jealousy give no result. Until finally, the characters suddenly remember that it’s XXI century outside and there is the Internet, and on the Internet, there are social networks, such a place full passion. The cast is the same: Dasha Astafieva, Oleksiy Vertynskyi, Anna Salivanchuk, Viacheslav Dovzhenko, Mykhailo Khoma.

First Swingers at the beginning of 2018 managed to do unreal: it wasn’t just recouped in the release but got revenue by 10 times bigger (22,5 million against 2,5 million budget). Let’s see if simple jokes and beautiful bodies will work out this time.

Release date – March 1.

Hutsul Girl Ksenia

A delegation of Americans came from the States to Vorokhta with an important mission – to find a wife for a young Yaro. The father of the guy left the will which says that Yaro will inherit million dollars if he marries to a conscious Ukrainian.

The script written by Olena Demianenko is based on Yaroslav Barnych operetta. The cast: Varvara Lushchyk (Ksenia), Maks Lozynskyi (Yaro), Ihor Tsishkevych, Oleh Stefan, Kateryna Molchanova.

This project is interesting primarily because this is a genre that hasn’t been mastered by our screen-based industry – a musical. The attention of the audience, with full certainty, will be attracted by the participation of the cult group – the freak cabaret Dakh Daughters which performs the part of the songs. Not less famous DakhaBrakha will appear in a short cameo episode.

The release date is planned for March 7.


This Ukrainian-Belgian-French project has a long and ambiguous history.

Its filming started on November 1, 2015 in Kyiv and took place in pavilions and in the nature field of film studio Film.ua. The budget amounts to 2 million euros, 50% of which – the contribution of the Ukrainian side, 50% – Belgian and French, that makes Polina the most expensive Ukrainian film in the English language, created in co-production. In November 2017 the State Film Agency reported that experts of the agency watched the finished film. The distributors planned to release the film on May 25, 2017 but then the release was rescheduled. The officials and producers were extremely vague on this issue. But it seems that the denouement is coming.

Olias Barco is the director of the film. He got the Week of Criticism Award at the Cannes Festival for a short film. Polina is his third feature film. Due to the plot, the protagonist is Polina, a 11-year-old girl who doesn’t know about her past and the fate of her parents. She lives in the house with a mean aunt and her cousin. They plan to get rid of a girl on her birthday to obtain her secret fortune – a film studio. Polina manages to flee and she leaves for a journey in search of the truth about her family. In this mixture of Cinderella, road-movie and fantasy, a big company of actors from different countries was cast, including the legend of the world cinema – Jean Reno. The operator of the film is a three-time winner of Cesar Award Thierry Arbogast (born 1957) who has under his belt constant cooperation with Luc Besson and Emir Kusturica.

If nothing unpredictable happens, the release date will start on June 27.

The Rising Hawk

Tireless producer of high-budget projects Akhtem Seitablayev again produces a historical film: this time it’s a screenplay based on Ivan Franko’s novel Zakhar Berkut. The slogan of the film – “Freedom is my nature”.

The action takes place, as far as we know, in 1241. The Mongolian horde led by the Khan Burunda is moving westward, destroying everything on the way. Reaching the Carpathian Mountains, the troops stops at the foot. At night, several local hunters sneak in the camp and free hostages. Khan decides to go straight to take revenge and destroy the Carpathian settlements. For this purpose, he finds a traitor amongst locals who unlocks him a secret passage in mountains. A small community of mountain hunters under the leadership of Zakhar Berkut has a plan to forever stop the enemy.

The choice of actor for the role of Berkut is surprising. This is Robert Patrik, former “mercury” robot T 1000 from the blockbuster “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. Tuhar Vovk is performed by the Scottish Tommy Flanagan, known for his scar on the face, for his role as Filip “Chibs” Telford in the TV  series Sons of Anarchy and for episode roles in grossing Hollywood movies. Tsegmid Tserenbold, Mongolian, played the role of Burunda. Ukraine will be presented by Andriy Isaenko, Oleh Voloshchenko, Viktor Zhdanov, Oleh Spefan, Maryna Koshkina and others.

The budget of the film amounted to UAH 75 million, of which 30 million – state support. Was this money spent properly – it will become clear on October 10.

Gareth Jones

Perhaps, among all aforementioned projects, this one is worth expecting the most since it is shot by the director of the world level – Agnieszka Holland. Already her first film Provincial Actors was marked at the Cannes festival in 1980. She also has Alfred Bauer Prize of Berlin festival and three Oscar nominations. Agnieszka has been working in France, Germany and the USA but Gareth Jones is her first project in Ukraine (with Great Britain and Poland cooperation). The total budget of the film is 262.2 million hryvnias, our share is 25.9 million.

As far as we know from the title, the protagonist is a real historical figure, glorified in Ukraine and tragically murdered, the Welsh reporter Gareth Jones. In 1933 he arrives in Moscow where he gets acquainted with the journalist Ada Brooks who opens his eyes at the real state of affairs and a 28-year-old journalist, despite the mortal danger, begins his own investigation. He manages to secretly sneak from NKVD squad in the wasted by famine Ukraine and later to tell the truth about this horrible tragedy. The scriptwriter of the film, American journalist with Ukrainian roots Andrea Khalupa inserts the motive of Jone’s acquaintance with British writer George Orwell: due to her assumptions, the revealing of Welsh reporter became the ground for Orwell’s dystopia “Animal Farm”.

The British actor James Norton is going to play Gareth Jones. Also starring: Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Mawle, Yakiv Tkachenko, Mikhalina Olshanska, Celyn Jones.

The premiere in Ukraine is planned for November 28.

Dmytro Desyateryk, The Day – specially for opinionua.com

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