A manuscript found in an attic led to a voyage to Ukraine in search of family history and in the process finding a vodka distillery formally belonging to director Dan Edelstyn’s ancestors. The feature film ‘How To Re-Establish A Vodka Empire’ travels through history and politics from post Perestroika Ukraine to the Northern Ireland where he grew up and where his Jewish Grandmother, author of a romantic manuscript not unlike Dr Zhivago ended up buried in an unmarked grave in the Catholic cemetery on the Falls Road.
In a bid to reconnect with history and connect a declining town in Northern Ukraine with a European Market Dan and Hilary set up a social enterprise vodka brand ‘Zorokovich 1917’ - stocked in Selfridges and top UK cocktail bars.
The film premiered at the Times BFI London Film Festival and received 4 star reviews in Empire, Times and Irish Times. It was released by Picture House in the UK after Curzon and ICA screenings and toured internationally with support from The Kroll Foundation for Jewish Culture for US distribution. The film combined documentary with original model making and green screen animation. The soundtrack by Andrew Skeet was recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and released on Universal.
During the films making a series of events ‘Optimistic Immigrants’ brought together other stories and celebrations of migration at venues from the Jewish Museum to the East End Film Festival and UCL Urban Laboratory.
“Sincere, charming and inventive filmmaking” British Film Institute.
“A barnstorming tale of vodka and revolution.” BBC Radio.
“Unfolds as a travelogue, a memoir, a historical recreation and a detective story.” Irish Times.
“A tender, extraordinary underdog tale filled with humour, fear and above all, spirit. A heady delight of a documentary that will warm your cockles.” Empire Magazine.
“Think Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Everything is Illuminated’ but fuelled by vodka rather than heavy handed pathos: it’s Everything is Inebriated..Edelstyn is such an engaging travelling companion. Witty, a bit feckless and often half-cut, he would be the perfect dinner party guest – and he’d bring a bottle.” The Times.
Commissioned by Channel 4.
Supported by BritDoc (now DocSoc) ‘Good Pitch’, Ukrainian Airlines, The Shoresh Charitable Trust, The Edelstyn family, Babelgum, World View, The Scottish Documentary Institute, Michael Aminian, The Spiro Ark and a ‘Vodka Club’ in which people supported the film in exchange for official papers and vodka and entry to events and screenings.
Co-produced with Dartmouth Films.