The highly anticipated Ukrainian animated feature Mavka. The Forest Song will finally bring its tradition-rooted magic tale to theaters December 29, 2022, launching in Ukraine before rolling out internationally. Animagrad Studio (FILM.UA Group) will present new video materials to distributors at the European Film Market in Berlin next month, as well as two online screenings (Feb. 10-17).
Ahead of its EFM appearance, a new international trailer and imagery have been released, showing more of Mavka’s world and the characters she meets on her journey. “Mavka is undoubtedly the most anticipated release in the animation industry of Ukraine,” says Animagrad Studio CEO and producer Egor Olesov. “This story is epic, touching and funny all at the same time, which we hope will captivate the audiences worldwide.”
The movie tells the story of Mavka – the Soul of the Forest, a strong, unique female protagonist from classical literary fiction and mythology, set in a world that blends ancient Slavic myths and legends with the modern narrative and novel 3D animation technologies. The filmmakers took inspiration from ancient traditions and rituals, ornaments and patterns, authentic visual symbols in costumes, folk melodies of Slavic peoples and also from classic fairytale drama “The Forest Song” by Ukrainian poetess Lesya Ukrainka.
Mavka serves as the Guardian of the Heart of the magic Forest and its Soul, and her journey begins with falling in love with a gifted musician named Lukas, an ordinary village boy. Her feelings force her to face an impossible choice between love and her duty to protect her world. Mavka is the embodiment of virtues of selfless love, protection of nature, harmony and unity of two universes: the World of the Forest and the World of People.
In the new trailer, viewers also meet Mavka’s faithful friends Swampy the Kittyfrog, the grumpy forest noisekeeper Hush, and beautiful water nymph Ondine as well as the main antagonist, the insidious and greedy Kylina, and her henchmen: Frol (a fashion designer and Kylina’s head minion) and Eric & Derek (two strong, tough and straightforward mercenary brothers).
The studio has also revealed some of the star-studded Ukrainian voice cast, listing popular singers and celebrities. Though the voices of lead character Mavka and some other creatures are yet to be announced, the international audiences can expect a similarly shining roster.
The movie is also notable for its attention to environmental details. Consultants from the WWF-Ukraine helped artists create fantasy locations inspired by unique landscapes of Ukrainian forests and mountains. These are natural habitats for many rare and disappearing species of animals and plants that the animated filmmakers hope to draw attention to by implementing them into the plot and settings.
Mavka. The Forest Song first made waves internationally when the initial teaser was presented at the 2017 MIFA content market in Annecy. It then became the only Ukrainian project selected for Europe’s forum Cartoon Movie pitches in Bordeaux for two years in a row.
“The distribution rights to the film have already been acquired by 10 companies that operate on 20 international territories, including countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa,” notes Evgeniy Drachov of FILM.UA Distribution, which is handling international sales.
Over the years of its development and production, the project has grown into a cross-media multi-platform IP with a very high level of knowledge among local audiences – “Mavka Universe,” which brings together people from the creative, technological and business spheres, scientific and public institutions, government agencies. A number of licensing products have already launched (foods, books, apparel, accessories, branding of spaces, etc.) and many more are in the pipeline, including stationary and toys. The film is created with the support of the Ukrainian State Film Agency (USFA), the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine (ICIP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).