606 Distribution and the BFI have partnered to organize a series of preview charity screenings of Elie Grappe’s Cannes winning film “Olga.”
From each ticket sold, a donation will be made to support Ukraine via the Disasters Emergency Committee.
The film, about a young female Ukrainian gymnast forced to train in exile, had its U.K. premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival earlier this week.
The preview screenings will be taking place in over 200 cinemas from March 18, with more cinemas joining the initiative each day. Participating cinemas include Cineworld, Curzon, Everyman, Odeon, Vue and Picturehouse chains, as well as the independent venues which make up the members and lead organizations of the BFI Film Audience Network. The previews are also supported by the UK Cinema Association.
Set in 2013, Olga tells the story of a 15-year-old Ukrainian gymnast training for the European Championship in preparation for the Olympics, who is forced to move to Switzerland from her home in Kyiv where her mother works as an investigative journalist reporting on the Euromaidan protests. Lead actress Anastasia Budiashkina is a former member of Ukraine’s national gymnastics team.
Budiashkina, who arrived in Poland on Monday after leaving Kharkiv in Ukraine to escape the war, said: “I am very glad that Olga will be seen in the U.K., and people will see the situation going on with Ukraine. Everyone involved with Olga worked very hard, and I put a part of myself into the film. I hope everyone will enjoy Olga.”
Pat Kelman, director of 606 Distribution, said: “I planned to release Olga in the late spring, but the invasion of Ukraine made me very nervous about releasing the film at all. When Watershed Cinema curator Mark Cosgrove mentioned that venues were looking for a way to show support for Ukrainians, I realised that this very human and dramatic film set against the Ukraine 2013 Maidan Revolution could now resonate and connect with UK audiences in a meaningful way.”
“Once word started to spread, it became clear that 606 needed help to make this event happen. I am hugely grateful to BFI Distribution for coming in and supplying this technical and marketing assistance. I am overwhelmed by the massive support the film distribution and exhibition community are showing for this project, and I hope we see full houses across the nation in support of Ukraine and Ukrainians,” Kelman added.
Jason Wood, director of public programs at the BFI, said: “We are all witnessing a horrifying situation unfold, but film has the power to unite people and inspire empathy across cultures. I’m really proud that the UK’s film exhibition and distribution community and colleagues across the BFI have come together to bring Olga to as many U.K. cinemas — and audiences — as possible, giving us a perspective on Ukrainian life, telling a Ukrainian story and actively supporting the people of Ukraine through this special film.”
Olga is produced by Point Prod, Cinema Defacto and Pulsar Content, with the support of Swiss Film. 606 Distribution is the U.K. and Ireland distributor.