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“You must express your ideas in a universal language if you want to be heard”

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Andrey Yermak • Producer

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- At the recent Odesa International Film Festival, Cineuropa chatted to producer Andrey Yermak, who staged the successful Karlovy Vary title The Line

Andrey Yermak  • Producer

During the eighth Odesa International Film Festival, we met up with Andrey Yermak, CEO of Garnet International Media Group and the Ukrainian producer of the Karlovy Vary success The Line [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Andrey Yermak
interview: Peter Bebjak
film profile
]
, to talk about the challenges of co-productions and the opportunities that these may bring to a relatively young film industry like Ukraine’s.

Cineuropa: This was the first-ever co-production between Slovakia and Ukraine; could you please elaborate on this partnership?
Andrey Yermak
: I should mention that The Line is a real co-production – probably one of the first in Ukraine. We managed to secure all of the financial aspects, the crew and an A-class local cast, including Rimma Zyubina and Stanislav Boklan. We chose locations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Ukraine, where 50% of the film takes place. Also, part of the post-production was done in Ukraine, and part of the promotion was organised along with my Slovak colleague Wanda Adamik Hrycova.

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What can you tell us about the Ukrainian team? How was the collaboration with the rest of the crew?
When we started working, we were somehow afraid of the result. We spoke more than five languages on set, but we had a great collaboration with everyone without any conflicts. The Czech and Slovak teams were a bit hesitant initially, but they immediately understood that their Ukrainian colleagues were also of a high level. We created an international team that also offered our actors and crew a unique experience. I hope that we will continue this collaboration, as I believe that we created the most successful Ukrainian project this year. In fact, everyone saw that at Karlovy Vary.

Did your participation in Karlovy Vary enhance the role of Ukrainian cinema?
It was very important, as after all these years, we finally had a film in the official selection of one of the leading film festivals. There might have been other Ukrainian films selected for festivals, but none of them was in an official competition. Furthermore, The Line won the second prize, which attaches an extremely high value to our work.

Is this a film that could be successful in markets outside Eastern Europe?
The Line is aimed at a wider audience, as it is a crime story that could take place in any similar borderline location, and it is important to speak about a common subject while we observe how a criminal lifestyle can crush people. We have already received positive reviews from international outlets, and this is encouraging. If you want to be heard, it’s necessary to express your ideas in a universal language that people can understand. Our sales agency, Film Republic, starts the international release of the film next week, and this means that everyone will have the chance to feel related to it.

Does the Ukrainian film industry need this exposure now?
Ukraine is a big country with many talented people, and it is very important now to be a part of the world. At the beginning, we concentrated on the former Soviet countries; now we are being forced to find new markets, new possibilities and new audiences, so we have to adapt to different viewers’ needs. We are going through difficult times owing to the financial crisis and the conflict with Russia. We are also on track to participate more fully in Creative Europe and be more active in the European market. It is important to explain our position to the world through films.

After your experience with co-production, do you have any tips you would like to share with your local colleagues?
You can be successful if you remain concentrated on your plan. You must sort out everything from the start by having a great script, a sales agent on board, a clear vision of the festival circuit and the potential audience of your film in mind. If you start shooting, you cannot change any of these elements. Unfortunately, the majority of Ukrainian films are not made that way.

Do you think that the Ukrainian audience will grasp the essence of the film?
I’m eagerly awaiting the reactions of our viewers, especially if they follow the symbolism behind this line. Everything in your life depends on you, and sometimes crossing a line might mean not being able to return. Politically speaking, we have now been offered an opportunity to explore a new world towards Europe, and as Ukrainian citizens we must decide if we want to seize this chance or not, by crossing another line.

Are your upcoming plans also co-productions?
We are preparing three more projects and are aiming for them all to be co-productions. The first one is a big-budget co-production by Argentina, France, the USA, Israel and Ukraine, with Hollywood stars confirmed, which follows the capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the organisers of the Holocaust, by the Mossad. The second one is a drama directed by the legendary Vyacheslav Kristofovich, which took part in the pitching session at the Odesa IFF. The last one is being directed by Andrey Kavun, whose films are quite successful in Russia.

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