First screening at FilmFest Hamburg

The house was packed.  Like every filmmaker, just a few hours prior to the screening we had our usual frenzy: what if the DVD, blue ray disc, Digibeta tape, what have you, doesn’t  play and what if there is no one to see our film?

So when we saw the movie theater full of people, it was a huge relief followed by:  “But what if they don’t like the film?” In the end, our audience turned out to be warm, friendly and surprisingly well versed in the issues of our film.  So all in all it was a great turnout and a good crowd.

Interesting anecdote: a fellow filmmaker who was among the audience overheard two of his neighbors saying: “How did two beautiful women choose a subject like that?!” We still don’t know if we should take that as a compliment or not!

The venue of the screening - Kino3001

Kino 3001

Back in the car, we were emotionally exhausted.  We badly needed a nap in order to prepare for the next event: the party of the year of the film world in Hamburg: the so-called “Director’s Cut Party”.  The party is one of the highlights of the social life over here and is impossible get in; but of course, our wonderful host Alex is already proven to do wonders.

Oh boy didn’t we miss our Cannes dresses! The scene at the party was not so unusual: the “short-director-tall-model” formula proves to be true in this part of the world as well.  It looked like most of the crowd was composed of the up and coming German actors and actresses. We felt relieved that we didn’t have to prove ourselves on the dance floor. It must be even tougher than having to prove yourself as a bible salesman (See previous post).

The Director's Cut party dance floor

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Big fat limousine

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Our first impression from the trip started in Copenhagen where we had a short layover.  The airport is so beautifully designed that we decided to enjoy it, so we sat in one of the lounges to have a cup of coffee. Our excitement was quickly over when the bill came and we had to pay 15 Euros for a coffee and a bottle of water. Ouch.

Then our flight was delayed because the plane had to be changed… twice.  We finally got into a plane that could actually fly and arrived to Hamburg safe and sound.   We were greeted at the airport by Alex our charming host who told us: “We had a big wide limousine waiting for you, but because of the delay, it had to leave and we’re going to have to take a cab.” We’re thinking of suing the airline company.

Being part of the competition at a festival is quite different from being at a film market. After having had to figure everything out by ourselves while in Cannes, it’s very nice to be spoiled and taken care of by the staff of the festival. That’s quite an upgrade.

Hamburg itself is beautiful. The people here are very warm and welcoming and are very proud of their city, and especially of their famous harbor.

Another perk of being part of the competition is that you get invited to all sorts of parties and dinners. On our first evening, after going to dinner at a hidden and much talked about penthouse with an overview of the entire harbor, we actually went partying at an underground dance club. The theme of the night was “retro music” which worked great for us, because that’s the music that we knew back in the day when we still used to go out and were not corrupted by this all-consuming filmmaking business.

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Three Stories of Galicia screening at FilmFest Hamburg

Three Stories of Galicia will be screening as part of the main competition at FilmFest Hamburg on October 3rd and 5th.  We are in a last minute packing frenzy, leaving for Germany in a few hours, and of course, we are very late with everything.  But, what makes things a little better is the fact that we have just been told that “our personal assistant while we’re in Hamburg” will meet us with a car at the airport.  Wow! Welcome to the real world! You definitely don’t get used to being spoiled while making a documentary…

We will of course be updating the blog with new stories, photos and events. So stay tuned!

Two other great news: we have a brand new trailer that we invite you to check out, AND, we have been converted into entering the whole social marketing/social networking arena, so you can now also find our updates on facebook: Three Stories of Galicia.

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More on the Lviv screening – pictures and article

Since Sarah couldn’t be at the screening at KinoLev, she made our dear friend and cinematographer Petro promise to take lots of pictures… and he kept his promise.

So here are a few more pictures from the screening last week in Lviv.

Also, for those who read Ukrainian, here is a very nice article that was written about the film in Radio Liberty.
The tragic events in Galicia during the Second World War still causes different opinions in Ukrainian society. Ukrainians, Jews, Poles, who lived next door, suddenly one day become enemies. War experienced people in their honesty, conscience, dignity. Documentary film “Three Stories of Galicia, sponsored by Olga Onyshko and Sarah Farhat – a story about three people’s lives in the vortex of those events. This tape presented at the festival “kinoLEV in Lviv….

Looks like we had a pretty nice turn out

When all the seats were all full, older Ukrainian ladies showed some serious ingenuity

Olia Ilkiv, her fake husband, his real wife (Mr. and Mrs. Poluha) and Olia's son Volodymyr

Olia & Olia

Olia Ilkiv speaking after the screening

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Screening at KinoLev – The Lviv Film Festival

Since we’ve been “offline” for so long, it may seem that we spent the past two months  lying on a beach in some tropical paradise… well no, we’re still waiting for that vacation… that will probably have to wait until – like Olia’s kids say it – “Mama becomes rich and famous.”
So what did we achieve in the past two months?  We now have a complete Ukrainian version of “Three Stories of Galicia” with titles, subtitles and a voice over narration by the great Ukrainian actress and star of the former USSR, Ada Rogovceva.  To make that happen, Olia traveled this summer to Kyiv, Lviv and Odessa where she met with representatives of the Ukrainian TV and Film industry and organized the recording session with Rogovceva.

In other exciting (and related) news, Olia went back to Lviv two days ago for the film’s screening at KinoLev, the Lviv Film Festival.

Olia with Oles Dzyndra, director of the KinoLev Festival (photo by Andriy Artym)

The public at KinoLev with Olia's mother at the first row (Photo by Andriy Artym)

The screening was very successful. We had a packed house and a lot of people even watching from outside of the premise on a big screen.  Olia received an ovation and a lot of flowers.  The biggest criticism came from no other than Olia Ikiv, one of the heroes of our film.  She complained that she didn’t look good on camera. The audience was very responsive and assured her that it was not true!  One of the nicest feedback came from a Belorussian film director who stated that if they had even one Olia Ilkiv in Belarus, Lukashenko’s era would be long gone by now – Lukashenko being the president of Belarus since 1994.

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Sweet memories

According to Olia, the best thing about Cannes was not the movies, not the sea, not the stars, but the pastries. (It took some serious convincing on her part to show that pastries were very much related to the Cannes experience and definitely had their place on the blog.) We discovered this charming little pastry shop at Rue D’Antibe, we came back every day for their divine ‘macarons a la rose’ and the people there were patient enough to put up with us while we were taking pictures of their work of art.

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Mama, did you sell your film yet?

Cannes at night

We felt it was time to look back at our major take-aways from Cannes. As you remember, we had two screenings of the film and countless meetings and networking efforts to find potential distribution as well as festival interest. We were also pitching a few projects in development and looking for potential co-productions.

It is hard to say right now how it went, because the results will typically be visible in the next few weeks, when we will start following up with all the people we’ve met and provided with a DVD screener of the film.

Every time Olia would talk to her children on the phone, the little voices on the other end of the line would ask:
-Mama, did you sell your film yet?
It is 99% impossible for two independent producers to come back from the film market with a deal signed.  The market this year was especially led by star-driven genre titles with theatrical potential and small projects were much harder to sell.  It is also very rare for independent producers to take matters into their own hands like we did and head to the film market without a sales agent or company.

Overall Cannes was an amazing learning experience for both of us.  It really helped put us in a business-like mindset which is essential when trying to actually sell/distribute the film.  We grew familiar with the industry and learned what to expect in terms of sales, distribution and co-productions.

Mama, did you sell your film yet?

After our screening on May 12

A lot of people have also been asking about the screenings, so here is a short update on how things went.
We had two screenings of “Three Stories of Galicia”: the first on May 12th and the other on May 20th.  Both dates were hard to work with because we had very little time to prepare for the first screening and the second screening was on the day before the market closed.  Many people who we had met and who had expressed interest in watching our film on the big screen, were already gone by the 20th. Thankfully, we had a lot of DVD screeners to give out.

Altogether, we had around 35 people.  We were a little disappointed at first, but when we learned who those people were, we realized that they were actually our target audience: distributors, programmers of some important film festivals and a few journalists.
When we went to retrieve our tape, the projectionist told us:
-Congratulations, that looked like a very successful screening!
-Why? we asked.
-They were actually applauding at the end.  It never happens at the market!

We’re in Paris right now, ready to depart. Olia is going back to DC and Sarah will be leaving for Lebanon in a few days.  In the next couple of weeks we will be doing a lot of writing, developing the new projects and mostly continuing to work on the outreach and distribution of “Three Stories of Galicia.” We will definitely be updating everybody on how things evolve.
Thanks for all who kept up with our blog, and we’ll be back for the next festival, market, screening or event!

A half-day in Paris

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