How to Re-establish a Vodka Empire

"Very Good"

How to Re-establish a Vodka Empire Review


Like a less-gimmicky, more goofy Morgan Spurlock, Edelstyn puts himself at the centre of this documentary telling two stories: of his grandparents' journey across Europe and his own discovery of an old family business and his work to revive it. It's an engaging, personal story full of moving details.

It all starts when Edelstyn finds a box of manuscripts and letters by his Ukrainian grandmother. Lost for 100 years, they outline how the family's wealthy life ended with the 1917 Russian Revolution. Then he travels to Ukraine to find out more about his family's sugar factory, which is now closed. But the locals reveal that there was another factory, a still-working vodka distillery.

As he decides to revive the business and import the vodka into Britain, Phis artist partner owell discovers that she's pregnant.

And to tell the story, Edelstyn uses combines a variety of film styles, from archive footage and photos to wacky re-enactments of historical events in which they play his grandparents. Getting friends to play his ancestors and various extras, he inventively recreates events unsung miniatures, animation and lots of green screen spliced in with real footage from both the past and present.

And he finds interesting parallels between this story a young woman during the 1917 revolution and his own journey.

Edenstyn assembles this with sharp wit that plays on Russian cinema and culture. As he travels into rural Ukraine, he encounters real Slavic hospitality, including rather a lot of vodka-shot drinking, and he meets meets a very old woman who remembers his grandmother. But he also discovers that the recent closure of the sugar factory has drained the life out of the village. So relaunching the family vodka in the name of Granny Maroussia is a way to redress history.

This is a thoroughly intriguing film that entertains us with its inventive approach while exploring the ethical and historical implications. And as we follow him through the red tape in present-day Ukraine, we also see Granny Maroussia navigating the bureaucracy of her time. What emerges is a fairly standard story of European migration in the 20th century made much more personal by the way it echoes in Edelstyn's life, leading to births, deaths and the launch of Zorokovich 1917 Vodka in the UK.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 75 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th March 2012

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Edelstyn

Producer: Daniel Edelstyn, Christopher Hird, Hilary Powell

Contactmusic


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