Mila Andriiash and Anton Sova the creative tandem of film production

In October 2021, Ukrainian producer Mila Andriiash and her Swedish colleague Anton Sova presented their short film “God Will Forgive” at the Kiev International Film Festival. However, it was not until October 2023 that the film caught the attention of the Stockholm City Film Festival, but in November it won the Best Short Film award. We were interested in the story of the film’s journey through different countries and the increased interest in it.

How did the short film “God Will Forgive”, made in 2021 using funds from the Foundation Kira Muratova and the Ukrainian State Film Agency budget, find its way to promotion abroad, and why did this process take so long?

(Mila) Our film is a compelling story about human decisions and difficult choices. We built the plot around a priest caught in difficult situations where human influence proves to be far from decisive. The film touches on current issues such as mined areas and military action in eastern Ukraine. Perhaps the time to popularise our picture is due to recent world events, when these topics have become even more relevant.

(Anton) It is important to note that in 2021 our film lost one of its actors, Sergei Shadrin. This tragic event had an impact on the perception and promotion of the film. The loss of a talented actor with whom we had recently worked was a real blow for the whole team and left its mark on our work forever.

How did this amazing tandem of film producers from different countries come together, and why did you choose the theme of war?

(Anton) This is really my first collaboration with an experienced Ukrainian producer, Mila Andriiash. We have a great synergy with Mila and we found a common language, which makes our collaboration especially effective. My experience in military training at the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine from 2001 to 2003, as well as my military rank of Lieutenant in 2004, gave me insights into military themes. This film is not just a project for me, but a part of my personal experience and interest in military issues.

(Mila) Anton, despite his Ukrainian origin, has strong ties to Ukraine and has successfully realized many projects in different parts of the world.  Our cooperation began while he was still studying at the Kyiv University of Culture. Anton studied not only at Kyiv Slavonic University from 1998 to 2003, but also at Kyiv University of Culture from 2003 to 2004, where I also studied from 2004 to 2006, during this period we collaborated on various projects and realized our first joint projects. The TUARON, which we both represent, is actively engaged with the author community, which is a key aspect in the successful promotion of the film. We plan to continue our creative collaboration in Sweden, taking advantage of the infrastructure of the Swedish film industry for our next projects.

How did your film find its way to the Stockholm City Film Festival and how was it received by the Swedish public?

(Mila) Our film aroused interest not only in Ukraine but also abroad. However, we faced the challenge of adapting to the differences in film production and the preferences of audiences of different cultures. These difficulties, in my opinion, only enriched our creative experience. The Stockholm City Film Festival unexpectedly became our platform in October 2023. The reaction of the Swedish audience and film critics has been very positive, which is certainly an important achievement for us.

(Anton) From the very beginning of production, we have been striving for maximum audience reach through the distribution of the film. The failure of major global streaming platforms including Amazon in 2022 was a turning point. It forced us to rethink the way we look at the film and pay close attention to the issues raised in the film. The extra work of adapting the film to the Swedish cinematic environment took effort but, in my opinion, only strengthened the film. The Stockholm City Film Festival was the first venue in Sweden where we presented the film, marking the beginning of its successful reception in the country.

Tell us, Anton, how did you come up with your creative pseudonym “Anton Sova” and why did you decide to broaden your horizons by entering the film industry?

(Anton) Since my entry into the music industry and having been involved in various forms of art since 1999, I decided to use the creative pseudonym “Anton Sova” when publishing my works and being active in creative and social activities. This pseudonym is universal and accessible to different countries and cultures, as its spelling and sound are identical in different languages.

“Sova” in different languages means both the bird “Owl” and is used in my family crest. This symbol had a special meaning to me, which led to the choice and use of this pseudonym. Although it is easy and clear in Swedish, sometimes the meaning of “Sova” may not be clear enough to Swedes, where the word has other meanings. However, this only adds to the mystery and interest of the pseudonym. As for entering the film industry, I saw this new direction as an opportunity for additional creativity and expanding my influence, which is an exciting challenge for me.

Cinematography is a new stage in Anton’s creative career. How did he, without much experience in this field, manage to achieve such an impressive success and create a film of high quality, even if it is a short format?

(Mila) Since graduating from my film studies in 2009 at Kyiv National I. K. Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television University, I have been actively working in the film industry with over 15 years of experience. My portfolio includes a variety of projects ranging from feature films such as “Gamer”, “Airport”, “Call Sign Banderas”, “Trubach” and many others. I have had the unique opportunity to collaborate with renowned directors such as Oleh Sentsov and Anatoly Mateshko, which has resulted in films that have received recognition and awards in international film circles.

My creative work is not limited to the film industry. I continue to create engaging content for adverts and music videos, and recently completed a music video for the talented singer Esfir. Additional education in psychology, obtained at the National Academy of Internal Affairs and completed in 2023, is another element of my continuous development. It provides me with the opportunity to successfully apply new knowledge and to a certain extent complements my professional path in film production.

More than three years have passed since the idea for the film “God Will Forgive” was conceived. Has the theme of the film lost its relevance during this time? What prospects do you see for the film in the future?

(Mila) We are glad that the film continues to attract the attention of viewers and professionals, which confirms that we are going in the right direction. Despite the past three years, we are actively considering various options for further distribution of the film. Participating in numerous festivals and building partnerships are key to maximizing audience reach. The film’s success at international film festivals, where it has won many awards, including Best Producer at the Dresden Cinema Awards and Navy International Film Festival, confirms its quality and relevance.

(Anton) “God Will Forgive” is currently available for viewing on the international streaming platform Megogo and the Swedish short film streaming platform Shortly Film. Our work continues and the film already has a multilingual page on Wikipedia, showing its international recognition. TUARON’s website (https://www.tuaron.com) also provides contact details for those interested in the film and possible collaborations. We are open to new offers from streaming platforms and distributors and are confident in the long-term prospects of “God Will Forgive” in the future.

Together with Mila Andriiash and Anton Sova, we followed the amazing journey of “God Will Forgive” from idea to worldwide recognition. Their passion for cinema and their unique collaboration created not only a remarkable film but also opened new perspectives for further creative expressions. We hope that their creative union will continue to bring amazing projects to the world of cinema.

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