As entry for distribution support through the IDFA Bertha Fund Europe scheme draws to a close, transmedia director Sara Božanic tells us about the innovative distribution strategy for Ukrainian Sheriffs which was supported during the scheme's first selection round.
After it won the Special Jury Award in IDFA's Feature-Length Competition at IDFA 2015, Ukrainian Seriffs successfully travelled the world's festival circuit. Against the backdrop of the encroaching war in nearby Crimea, the film tells the story of Viktor and Volodya, who have been appointed sheriffs in the small Ukrainian village of Stara Zburyevka. The film garnered enthusiastic reviews in among others Screen Daily ("there is a richness to its visuals and a poignancy to the ramshackle milieu of Stara Zburjivka") and The Hollywood Reporter ("an accomplished and highly promising feature-length debut").
In July of 2016, it was high time to bring Ukrainian Sheriffs to local audiences in Ukraine, as well as to the Baltic and Balkan regions. The filmmaking team's innovative distribution plan for these three regions was supported by IDFA Bertha Fund – Europe in February 2016, and was rolled out over the following summer. It's no accident that the Baltic and Balkan regions were chosen, said the project's transmedia director Sara Božanic. "The project fosters an international dialogue as a step towards improving social, economic and political conditions, in Ukraine as well as in other countries with similar conditions. The film addresses local people who want to satisfy their demand for change and trust for their own country’s future, as well as international audience that wants to learn more about Ukraine from inside."
The film was distributed in Ukraine in July 2016, moving on to the Balkan and Baltic countries in September. The distribution plan encompassed various different media, from a travelling cinema and theatrical events to social media communication and a web platform. Božanic: "By building a passionate audience around social, political and cultural issues, we collaborate quickly and effectively on solutions to today’s toughest problems in Ukraine and give back to the causes that should matter to all of us. Online communication can serve as real-time independent medium, portraying what is really going on in Ukrainian villages and communities, without bias. That helps us raise awareness about the social, political and economical situation in Ukraine, and in this way it promotes the film through active topic engagement."
Entry for IBF Europe's third selection round for Distribution support is now open. The deadline is November 10, 2017.