A cartoon that has been waiting for eight years. The animation “Mavka. Forest Song” was released in Ukrainian cinemas

A cartoon that has been waiting for eight years.  The animation “Mavka. Forest Song” was released in Ukrainian cinemas

Although the premiere of the animated feature film “Mavka. Forest Song” gathered an unusually large audience for wartime releases, among them it attracted many skeptics. Those who follow the film process and (especially!) the distribution of public funds for the production of films in Ukraine, were interested in how the cartoon turned out, the production of which took almost eight years. UP.Zhyttia correspondents Maria Kabatsii and Hanna Shchokan visited the screening of one of the most anticipated “long-standing projects” of Ukrainian animation – “Mavka. Forest Song” by the Animagrad studio. Starting today, the cartoon about Mavka is in theaters all over Ukraine. The pre-premiere screening of the cartoon based on Lesia Ukrainka’s extravaganza drama takes place at the “Oscar” cinema in the Gulliver shopping center. At the entrance to the left of the photo zone with forest thickets and the inscription “Mavka. Forest song”, guests are given tickets with the image of the main character of the animation. The cartoon was created in 2015. Its production is one of the longest in Ukrainian modern cinema. Guests gather around a huge green cake made like a six-tiered tree with ferns and a fountain. A maw with green hair decorates the edible structure. Children are also offered to taste ice cream. An animator puts temporary “embroidery” tattoos on a five-year-old boy’s face and palm – these appear on Mavka when he hears human music. We approach the artist Nina Matvienko, she takes pictures with fans in the photo zone. She says that she voiced the narrator in the film. She did not see “Mavka” in full – she asked not to spoil the impression of the premiere. Nina Matvienko voiced the storyteller in “Mavka”. Photo: provided by the press service. On the couch, a girl in a light dress plays with a six-year-old boy. Her name is Nastya. The boy Taras is the son of friends who came to “Mavka” because he liked one of the helpers of the forest guard – a toad. He has his pictures and toys at home. “Well, I’ve been waiting for a cartoon for a very long time, I really love these heroes. For example, the toad is my favorite hero,” says Taras seriously. Shows a “tattoo” on his arm. “It’s just his totem animal,” says Anastasia. He thinks that “Mavka” will become the best animated film of Ukrainian production. We pass with the audience to the hall – the air alarm signal sounds. Most remain in their places – we go out into the hall, listen to the instructions where the nearest shelter is. From the loudspeaker, they offer to go to the underground parking lot or to the Olimpiyska metro station. Rejection of anxiety is met with applause. We return to the hall, where the first frames of the long-awaited animation are on the screen. There are many children on soft velvet seats. A three-year-old girl in a peach dress claps her hands. There are many children among the first spectators. Photo: courtesy of the press service. To our right, a young man says something in the girl’s ear. I manage to hear: “I wonder what happened after all?” From the first minutes of the cartoon it becomes obvious: the expectations for the cartoon were not in vain. The authors worked out every drawn detail, updated the jokes and the context. When the footage that has already been seen in the trailer appears on the screen – Mavka flies through the clearing of the ancient forest, riding the bison-leader of the herd – it takes your breath away. The music of the band DakhaBrakha adds to the atmosphere, the couple on the right discusses whether they have successfully “painted” the members of the band. They appear as heroes of “Mavka”. “Interestingly, they were beaten a lot. Lesya Ukrainka should be connected with Dakha Brakha”, – smiles the guy in front. DahuBrakha was also painted in “Mavka”. A shot from the film. For the first time, there was talk of an animated feature based on the play “Forest Song” by Lesya Ukrainka in 2015. Then producers Serhiy Sozanovskyi and Iryna Kostyuk first voiced the idea of ​​creating a cartoon based on a well-known text and Ukrainian mythology. They planned to slightly change the original plot, adding a happy ending to it, and along with the dramatic characters of the play known to everyone from the school curriculum – Mavka, Lukash, Kylina, Forester, mermaids, The One Who Breaks the Dams – many new comic characters. The colorful “modernized” world of the Ukrainian myth is being assembled on the screen. It occurs to me that now it is appropriate to compare it with “Avatar” not only in the long terms of production, but also in the organic creation of a new exciting world. And with Marvel – in the successful production of superheroes relevant to the present day. A frame from the movie “Mavka. Forest Song” The man on the right is sipping Pepsi from a small bottle, looking fixedly at the screen. He says it looks “expensive”. In 2016, the creators estimated the cost of the animated “Forest Song” at 98 million hryvnias (a quarter of which was to be covered by the state). The project of a modernized cartoon about Mavka won the 9th competition of the State Cinema, and together with the budget share of the money received a signed contract for the start of production. A few months passed, and in the spring of 2017, the upcoming Ukrainian cartoon about the soul of all forest creatures caused a sensation at Europe’s largest animation forum, Cartoon Movie. Then Ukraine brought its animated presentation to this event for the first time – and immediately received favorable reviews from such legends as The Walt Disney Company. In the same year, the film company Film.UA and its animation division Animagrad, at that time best known for the political animated series “Fairytale Rus”, sold the rights to show “Mavka” in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania, in the Middle East and even North Africa. However, as it turns out later, we and they will have to wait another six years for the premiere. The romantic line of the heroes is truly captivating. Symbols, metaphors of love created by the authors literally resonate and evoke empathy. We recall the first teaser trailer of the cartoon “Mavka. Forest Song”, which was released in 2018. At this stage, there was only one director in the animation – Oleksandra Ruban (she will be joined later by Oleg Malamuzh), and Mavka herself has a somewhat different, as if more childish, appearance . The trailer also features a soundtrack by the most popular Ukrainian ethno-group DakhaBrah (in six years, the song in the official trailer will be changed to a composition by Khrystyna Solova and Artem Pivovarov, more aimed at a mass audience, however, we will make sure at the premiere, and an important place will remain for DakhaBrah). Such was the first Mavka. Graceful Mavka on the screen turns into a heroine with a completely different “energy” – she no longer resembles the usual green-haired girl, who was used to in the trailer. In 2019, the main character acquires the movements and plasticity of the prima ballerina of the National Opera, Kateryna Kuhar. At that time, Kuhar performed the role of Mavka in the ballet “Forest Song” on the stage of the opera. So she is filmed in video references, based on which artists then bring Mavka from the cartoon to life. The heroine will receive her voice as early as 2022: then it is announced that she will be voiced by actress Natalka Denysenko. The audience is constantly watching the climax. The man on the right wonders if they will use the “same” quote from “The Song of the Forest”. The audience begins to applaud even before the beginning of the credits, which go to the music of “Ancient Their Secrets”. We look back at the couple on the right. We still don’t know that there will be an “Easter” after the credits. Let’s meet Nikita and Nastya Belik. They continue to sit in their seats and discuss the cartoon. “It’s really cool. I think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen from Ukrainian cinema. And cartoons – there’s simply no equal. I liked how the characters were drawn, very emotionally, I liked the plot, I liked the emotion. You know, to the point of tears – that’s how it works.” , – says marketer Nikita Belik. His wife Anastasia nods, smiles: “I really liked the cartoon, first of all, because it is kind. Currently, there is a great lack of such inspiring content that would broadcast peace and respect for nature. A very cool cartoon.” Serhii Sozanovsky first spoke about “Mavka” in 2015. Photo: Courtesy of the press service We go down the stairs past the spectator Maria in a light sweater. Collects five-year-old son Vlad. He proudly shows me the ticket and the “marks of Mavka” on his cheeks. “We really liked it! Yes, the children here used to do these “sticklers?”. I liked the voice acting. And I really like that the characters are authentic. That they don’t look like anyone else. Neither the Disney characters nor the others. We came for the first time in our lives to the cinema and immediately to the Ukrainian cartoon. And immediately to the pre-premiere screening – will now tell everyone,” says Maria. “Priviiiit!” – Vlad calls to us in a friendly manner. He repeats after his mother: “I liked it. I liked it sooooo much.” He smiles and shares his impressions: “There was such an oak tree – I took a picture with it before the movie. And there was also such a troll. I really liked it. At home they show fairy tales, but here they show a whole cartoon.” A frame from the movie “Mavka. Forest Song” A girl in a peach dress runs past us upstairs. We recognize that this is the same “little one” who was clapping her hands. “My daughter liked it, she watched with great interest – she even applauded and shouted. We were afraid that she would spoil the viewing,” says Yuliya Ivanchenko. Her husband Oleksii is standing next to her, smiling. Kashche, who took part in the work on the film. “Of course, I liked the cartoon. It’s a quality, fun Ukrainian product,” he says. A tall man in a dark jacket meets an acquaintance near the elevator. “It turned out cool. But with such deadlines, my grandchildren will already be watching the second season,” the company smiles. “Dovgobud” at eight years old In 2018, in one of the interviews, producer Serhii Sozanovsky, comparing “Mavka” with “Avatar” by James Cameron, explains that the production of the cartoon moves so slowly because “it is very painstaking work.” Announces the premiere date of 2020 and says that his company does not just create a movie, but builds an entire universe around it (like the Marvel Universe or the same “Avatar”). In the same year, the Ukrainian “Mavka” enters Cannes. In 2020, the Council for State Support of Cinematography, in response to Animagrad’s appeal, will almost double the project’s budget. And in a year, the creators of “Mavka” show a new trailer – and disappoint future viewers with the new appearance of the main character. They are criticized that the new Mavka looks less Ukrainian, too mature and excessively sexualized. For three years at the premiere, few people remember what that first Mavka was like. Since the 2020s, the team has been constantly taking extra time, moving the release date of the cartoon to the screens. All this time, they continue the declared construction of the Mavka universe, trying to support the Ukrainian audience’s interest in their product through various collaborations. In the end, connoisseurs of Ukrainian cinema began to perceive “Mavka” as the same “amazingly beautiful forest monster” from the cartoon: everyone supposedly heard about her, but no one had seen it yet. Read also: “I made a film against the fatigue of Ukraine in the world” – Bernard-Henri Levy

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