Paris-based Celluloid Dreams has boarded Antonio Lukich’s upcoming feature “From Ukraine to Luxembourg,” currently in post-production and aiming to premiere in the fall.
The Ukrainian director debuted in 2019 with “My Thoughts Are Silent,” a dramedy about a sound recordist asked to record animal sounds from Western Ukraine. But here is the catch: his mother decides to join him. The film was awarded a Special Jury Prize at Karlovy Vary’s East of the West section.
In “From Ukraine to Luxembourg,” starring Ramil Nasirov, Amil Nasirov, Natalia Gnitii and Liumyla Sachenko, two twin brothers have to deal with the disappearance of their father. While one of them decides to follow his path as a small-time crook, the other becomes a cop. One day, they find out their long-lost father is allegedly living in Luxembourg.
“In his first film, Antonio explored his own relationship with his mother. Now, he is focusing on his dad in a way,” ForeFilms producer Vladimir Yatsenko told Variety.
Known for such films as Valentyn Vasyanovych’s “Atlantis” and “Reflection,” and chosen as one of six Ukrainian Producers Under the Spotlight, Yatsenko is also behind “Rock. Paper. Grenade” by Iryna Tsilyk, to be presented at Cannes’ Marché du Film in the Ukrainian Features Preview.
“These two brothers are so different, but they will try to understand each other over the course of this journey. The film has funny moments but – in typical Lukich style – it’s also quite sad. In a way, the twins are like him – he was also divided. There is this love-hate relationship with a parent,” he added.
“I am so happy this film is not about war.”
Yatsenko, who produced the film alongside his wife, Anna Yatsenko, is currently serving in the Ukrainian army.
“The movie doesn’t appear to be about the war at all: it’s concerned with everyday life and community. We view it as a very precious portrait of Ukraine as it was and will be again. Antonio’s humor is delightful, full of nuances, everyone is interrelated and people are surprisingly tender with one another. It’s beautiful,” said Celluloid Dreams vice president Charlotte Mickie, calling the film’s central quest “absurd and mythic.”
“That being said, this film makes you think about what war does: there will be many more fatherless children like the twins before all this is over and so many families divided and dispersed. So much more trauma. The movie addresses those issues indirectly and very eloquently.”
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the evacuation, some of the materials stayed in Kyiv, but the film’s team managed to get them back.
“It was a complicated ‘special operation’, but we succeeded,” admitted Yatsenko. Also praising Celluloid Dreams’ president and founder, Hengameh Panahi, who decided to waive her commission.
“She said: ‘I don’t want to make money off this film, I just want to help.’ We are so grateful for it.”
“We wanted very much to help Ukraine, so we chose our area, cinema, and we made a very special arrangement for this very special film. We felt it was so important for the movie to be seen and for the Ukrainian people to be seen. It’s all about exposure,” added Mickie.
“Vladimir went to fight during the day and then at night joined his pregnant wife, Anna, alongside Antonio and his wife, in an underground refuge to finish the film. The sound in particular has been a terrible issue because of the bombing,” she said.
“These filmmakers have taken enormous risks. We have just taken a small chance and we hope that our distributors will do the same. It’s the least we can all do now.”
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