FNE spoke with Andrey Yermak, producer and CEO of Garnet International Media Group, about his successful film production company, the current situation in the Ukrainian film industry and about the importance of cooperation between Poland and the Ukraine.
Ukrainian producer Andrey Yermak has a Master's degree in International Law and has been running a successful law firm for over twenty years, specialising in copyright and entertainment law, before setting up his own film production company Garnet International Media Group (GIMG).
Andrey Yermak: During this time we have supported numerous film projects and were involved in the incorporation and operation of several media companies and film companies. All this gave me the inspiration, knowledge and experience to go into the film business as a film producer. Hence, today I am the owner and CEO of Garnet International Media Group (GIMG).
GIMG's portfolio is made up of a number of high profile projects, including successful international coproductions. Our most recent success is the criminal thriller The Line directed by Peter Bebjak, made in coproduction with Slovakia. The Line was presented at many international film festivals, received numerous nominations and won a number of prestigious awards: Best Director Award at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Silver Plaque, Best Art Direction at Chicago IFF, Atlas d'or award at Arras FF, Sun in a Net awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, Best Editor, Best Composer and Original Score. Currently I am finishing work on two new projects that I hope you will soon hear about.
What can you say about the current state of Ukrainian Film industry?
Andrey Yermak: Today the Ukrainian film industry is on the rise, it is experiencing a rebirth. The Ukrainian Film School has a long history and has been the Alma mater for many world renowned film professionals. In recent years the number of films produced in the Ukraine has been increasing. These films differ in terms of genre and in terms of the quality of production, but the progress is clearly visible, it cannot go unnoticed, and GIMG is a part of this process. We strongly believe that the best way to achieve success is through coproduction and the creation of films that would be interesting not only for the Ukrainian audience but also for viewers around the world. This is the foundation of our company policy.
All the above is the reason why all the projects that we choose and develop are in co-operation with our European partners. Of course, for me Poland is one of the main strategic partners for the Ukraine in film production. We work with many Polish film professionals and I value our close co-operation with the Polish office of EndemolShine.
At its development stage The Line was presented as Work in Progress during one of the events at the Warsaw International Film Festival. For me Warsaw IFF is one of the most important international film events. This year we are planning to present some new projects at the Warsaw IFF and find new ways for co-operation with Polish colleagues.
What projects do you plan to present this year to your potential partners in Poland?
Andrey Yermak: As I've already mentioned, currently I am working on several promising feature film projects, and I believe that each of them would benefit from having a Polish coproducer on our team:
The first project is Priority Fixation (working title SQUAT32). This is a new-style film. It is the story of contemporary Ukrainian youth, who search for themselves in the crazy environment of the modern metropolis. For me this film is a chance to show the great potential of the young generation of Ukrainians, who fight for their way of living, who create and change the world around them.
The film is a debut by a young Ukrainian director Sasha Lidagovskiy. Anna Adamovich, a rising star of Ukrainian cinema, plays the main role. The European viewer could see Anna in Buy Me, the recent film of Vadim Perelman. The director of photography of Squat32 is Volodymyr Ivanov. He is young, but since 2006 he has completed 17 feature films, over 60 commercials, music videos and short films. His short film Cross-Country directed by Maryna Vroda, was awarded the Palme du Or in 2011 in the Short Film Competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
The second film that I am working on is Forebodings. This is a new masterpiece by Viacheslav Kryshtofovych, one of the most celebrated and honoured film directors in the Ukraine as well as in the post-USSR territories. His films were top box office hits and participated in many international film festivals, including Cannes (twice), Montreal (twice), New York, Toronto, London, Brussels, Sundance and other festivals. Several of his films are part of the heritage of Ukrainian cinematography. A Lonely Woman Seeks Lifetime Companion, 1986, received one of the main awards at the IFF in Montreal (Canada, 1987). Both his films, Adam's Rib, 1990, and Friend of the Deceased,1997, were screened in the Director's Fortnight in Cannes.
The main idea of this allegorical story is that everything in life has to be done at the right time. At the heart of the plot is the eternal theme of the flow of time, the search for happiness and the choices people make. There are no protagonists or antagonists. All have their own truth and untruth, and all have forebodings. Some of these forebodings will come true and some won’t.
The third project is a feature film called Schedryk, after a Ukrainian Christmas song that was translated and remastered in English and now is known to the world as Carol of the Bells.
For me this story shows that despite the cultural and political differences between Polish and Ukrainian people, our nations are allied by friendship and history. This film is set between 1938 and 1945. During these terrible times of occupation and war a young Ukrainian mother Sofia is hiding Polish, Jewish and German children in her small apartment. Through these horrible years of personal struggle and tragedy Sofia is doing her best to take care of somebody else's children, who have become her own. This story of love and sacrifice overcomes Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, German and Russian cultural differences and even war, and preserves life and traditions. In our modern world this message is paramount and our countries should continue to treasure our ties and friendship.
For me each of these projects is special. I hope each of them will find its audience and become successful.