Bestselling Novel by Sofia Andrukhovych Felix Austria to Be Screened

• 24.01.2017

FILM.UA Group acquired rights for screening Felix Austria, a novel by Sofia Andrukhovych. Co-production negotiations have started with potential foreign partners. The film will be produced on partnership conditions by Nadiia Zayonchkovska.

Felix Austria by Sofia Andrukhovych was published by Vydavnytstvo Staroho Leva and in 2014 won a national prize BBC Book of the Year and also received a special publishing award in Lviv and LitAccent of the Year prize. The book became a real bestseller in Ukraine. In 2016, an Austrian publishing house Residenz Verlag published its German translation under the title Paper Boy (Der Papierjunge). In summer 2016, the book was published in Poland and became instantly popular among the readers.

“We are now actively working on the concept of future screening and started negotiations with potential partners outside Ukraine. In February, we plan to present it at the European Film Market in Berlin. First of all we are looking for partners on those territories where the book has been published, i.e. in Poland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The novel describes Stanislav (current Ivano-Frankovsk) under the power of Austro-Hungarian Empire. We know very little about this period and the everyday life of people in this part of Ukraine, but actually it is an extremely interesting time, which should be shown,” notes producer Nadiia Zayonchkovska. “When reading the book, at a certain moment I became aware that I am not just reading for pleasure; I am subconsciously compiling a list of reasons why the novel should be screened. I have gone around with this idea for a rather long time and then put in on paper. The very first meeting with Sofia confirmed that our opinions about interpreting many aspects of the book and further adapting this literature work to a screened version coincide. For me it is important to have mutual understanding with the author, and Sofia and I found common grounds immediately.” 


Photo by Viktor Grebenyovsky

According to Sofia Andrukhovych, when working on the book she didn’t stop to think about possible screening, but when the novel was published the writer got a lot of feedback from Ukrainian, Austrian and Polish readers about its screening potential. “When I understood that this time it is serious, I was joyful. There were doubts; I was thinking I should wait for someone else who won’t spoil the idea. But after conversations with Nadiia Zayonchkovska I felt interest and trust. I liked Nadiia’s words about three levels of the novel’s characters: city as character, food as character, and people as characters. It was great to hear that my book inspires and people want to work with it, transforming the novel into something new, giving a new shape to the story,” says Sofia Andrukhovych. “I am convinced that the script and the film will deviate greatly from the original work. I think they will be totally different, and it is okay. I wrote Felix Austria and I am responsible for this novel. As for all the rest, it is with great pleasure that I am going to observe it and root for it.”

“For FILM.UA Group the work on screening an excellent novel by Sofia Andrukhovych is a very important part of our strategy about creating films and TV projects based on the great works of classic and contemporary Ukrainian literature. In autumn 2017, Stronghold will come out, which is based on the novel by Volodymyr Rutkovsky; work continues on Mavka. The Forest Song after a play by Lesya Ukrainka; another project in development is Zakhar Berkut based on a novella by Ivan Franko; in autumn we plan to start producing Lemberg mini-series after a novel by Bohdan Kolomiychuk; and there are other projects in development as well. It seems very important to us to turn to rich Ukrainian culture with the help of cinema, make its real characters – the people, their actions and thoughts – popular and recognizable. I am convinced that they will be interesting not just for Ukrainians but also for the whole world,” says Polina Tolmacheva, FILM.UA Group PR and marketing director.

The action of Felix Austria is set in Stanislav (current Ivano-Frankovsk) of the late 19th and early 20th century. It is a regular city on the outskirts of “happy Austria” where people live, suffer, experience unrequited love, become captivated by science and charlatan performances of world-known illusionists, have a good time at the balls and carnivals, go for “spatzera” and hide their secrets in ornamented cupboards. Against the background of the age, which for its descendants becomes engulfed in bigger and bigger myths about idyllic life, there are the destinies of two women, which are intertwined as closely as two tree trunks, in an inseparable connection which doesn’t let one live, breathe, stay or leave.  

Awards and prizes:

2014 – LitAccent of the Year (Felix Austria), Ukraine

2014 – ВВС Book of the Year (Felix Austria), Ukraine

2015 – Joseph Konrad-Korzeniowski literary prize (Poland-Ukraine)

2015 – Lesya and Petro Kovalyov Fund prize (Felix Austria), USA

2016 – Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award (Felix Austria) (Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary)

Sofia Andrukhovych was born in 1982 in Ivano-Frankivsk, earlier known as Stanislav. She is an author of five prose books: Milena’s Summer(2002), Old People (2003), Women of Their Men (2005), Salmon (2007) and Felix Austria (2014), as well as a children’s book The Chicken Constellation (2015) and numerous essays. Her works are translated into English, Polish, German, Czech, Serbian and other languages. Sofia Andrukhovych translated the following books: European Woman by Manuela Gretkowska, A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan, Flat Earth News by Nick Davies, Poisoned Peace by Gregor Dalas, Talking to Terrorists by Peter Taylor, and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. She participated in scholarship programs, such as “Homines Urbani” in Krakow (2004) or “Gaude Polonia” from the Polish Minister of Culture (2013, 2016), numerous festivals, discussions, books fairs, and conferences in Ukraine and beyond.