Meet the Cannes buyers: Green Light Films

Veronika Yasinska and Nadiia Zaionchkovska launched the all-rights distribution and co-production outfit Green Light Films last summer, betting on a future for the Ukraine theatrical business in the middle of the ongoing war.

Now at their first Cannes as buyers, they can point to a string of specialty successes, including Jade Halley Bartlett Miller’s Girl, which earned around $284,000 locally, the Ukrainian documentary Us, Our Pets and the War from Ukrainian YouTube Star Anton Ptushkin, which at $115,000 and counting is the second highest-grossing Ukrainian film of the year, and, perhaps surprisingly, Alex Garland’s Civil War, which has earned more than $266,000 in Ukraine to date.

“Of course, marketing Civil War for our audience was a challenge,” notes Green Light Films CCO Zaionchkovska. “For other countries, this was a dystopian sci-fi drama, for our audience, it’s a documentary.”

From a standing start, Green Light Films has carved out “17 percent of the specialty market and around 5 percent of the overall box office” in Ukraine, says Yasinska.

Not that it’s easy releasing films in the middle of a war zone. Initial box office returns often have to be updated, says Zaionchkovska, to account for screenings “canceled due to missile attacks.” Movies targeting a male demographic can struggle to reach their audience since most Ukrainian men are involved in the defense of their country.

“But for us, this is the new normal,” says Zaionchkovska. “It isn’t easy but we’ve shown we can handle big titles and we have proven we can deliver. Ukraine is a big country, it’s a big territory, and the business is working.”

Green Light Films’ upcoming slate is broad and varied, ranging from Cannes competition title Beating Hearts to Gerard Butler actioner Den of Thieves 2 to Studiocanal’s animation feature Rex the Runt.

“We are looking for uplifting, entertaining titles for a wide and particular a family audience,” notes Yasinska. Adds Zaionchkovska: “If the subject is trauma, we’re not so interested. Our audience has enough of that already.”


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