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Mavka's magic. How Ukrainian cartoon fascinated the whole world and why this is just the beginning

Mavka's magic. How Ukrainian cartoon fascinated the whole world and why this is just the beginning Shot from the animated movie "Mavka: The Forest Song"

A big sensation of 2023 was the animated movie “Mavka: The Forest Song” by Animagrad Studio, based on Lesya Ukrainka's poetic play “The Forest Song” and inspired by the images of Ukrainian folk mythology.

RBC-Ukraine describes how this outstanding 3D animated fantasy movie became not only one of the most successful movie projects in our country but also won the hearts of viewers around the world.


The plot is based on the interaction and confrontation of two worlds: the magical and the human. The main theme of the movie is the love story between the forest Mavka and the peasant Lukash, as well as their fight against the villainess Kylyna, who wants to gain control over a magical forest spring.

Project success

The movie has broken several national records, becoming the highest-grossing Ukrainian movie project in the history of independent cinema and entering the top 20 highest-grossing movies in the country. Its success was a milestone for Ukrainian cinema, raising it to a new level in the global movie rankings.

The success of “Mavka” on the international level is also impressive. The movie has been dubbed into 32 languages. It is the first Ukrainian animated feature movie to be released globally on such a wide scale, being screened in 148 countries and grossing over 20 million dollars.

All international contracts for the movie's screening included both a dubbed and original Ukrainian version so that millions of Ukrainian refugees around the world could enjoy the cartoon in their native language.

In France, "Mavka" was ranked first among the week's new releases, became the second movie of the year, and was among the top five highest-grossing movies of the opening week. In Italy, the cartoon became the fifth highest-grossing animated movie of 2023, spending five weeks in the top three.

Магія Мавки. За рахунок чого український мультфільм зачарував світ і чому - це лише початок

Shot from the animated movie "Mavka: The Forest Song"

Story of creation

The idea to embody a famous female character in Ukrainian myths and legends using the universal language of animation originated back in 2014. At that time, the producers realized that Ukrainians needed their own stories to be adapted into movies, as the demand for a local animated hero was growing among Ukrainian youth.

Already in September 2015, the press service of Film.UA Group announced the start of production of the feature-length cartoon. In 2017, the first teaser was released, and “Mavka” became the first-ever Ukrainian project selected for pitching at Cartoon Movie in Bordeaux.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly slowed down the production process, and then, at the final stage of development, a full-scale Russian invasion started, and the team had to complete the movie under the conditions of martial law. Nevertheless, “Mavka” was released on time and the audience was able to enjoy it in the spring of 2023.

Магія Мавки. За рахунок чого український мультфільм зачарував світ і чому - це лише початок

Shot from the animated movie "Mavka: The Forest Song"


One of the key aspects that ensured “Mavka's” success in Ukraine was its large-scale marketing campaign, which involved collaboration with dozens of national brands, from jewelry stores and publishing houses to bakeries and supermarkets.

This major campaign also included performances and entertainment programs, like for example "Mavka: The Show" - a spectacular dance performance that traveled across 20 Ukrainian cities.


As told during the Cartoon Business 2023, the “Mavka” team already has plans to create a 12-episode animated series in cooperation with the French animation studio TeamTO, which will be a prequel to the events of the movie.

An animated sequel and a feature movie for the 12+ audience are also planned.

The creative team is working on expanding Mavka's universe, promising the audience even more exciting adventures and mysterious stories.

While we are awaiting this exciting sequel to this mystical and touching story, we have prepared for you a selection of incredible fairy-tale cartoons that are worth watching if you liked “Mavka: The Forest Song”.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

An animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki that has been a cult classic for several generations. This is the story of a young warrior, Ashitaka, who tries to get rid of his curse and finds himself involved in a conflict between humans and natural forest spirits. Along the way, he meets Princess Mononoke, who serves as a defender of nature.

The movie is an allegory of harmony between humans and nature. It explores the themes of protecting the world around us and the conflict between nature and human activity. Miyazaki's fascinating animation, convincing characters, and skillful direction make the movie relevant to this day. If you appreciate thought-provoking stories and beautifully crafted animation, Princess Mononoke is a must-see.

The Lorax (2012)

An animated movie based on the classical children's fairy tale by Dr. Seuss. The story centers around a boy named Ted who lives in a city devoid of real nature. While searching for a real tree for the girl he likes, the protagonist meets the Once-ler, who tells the boy about his past, explaining how his greed led to the extinction of the truffle trees and the exile of Lorax, the mystical guardian of the forest.

The movie convincingly merges nature and magic. The bright and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss comes to life through colorful animation. The story emphasizes the importance of preserving the environment and the consequences of uncontrolled industrialization.

Moana (2016)

An animated movie from the Disney studio tells a story about a brave girl named Moana who embarks on a desperate journey across the vast ocean to save her people from a threat. Under the guidance of her grandmother's spirit, Moana teams up with the demigod Maui to confront powerful forces.

The movie combines an adventure story with the breathtaking magic of nature as Moana interacts with the ocean and other natural forces. It amazes the audience with its excellent animation, exciting musical performances, and warm storyline.

White Snake (2019)

This Chinese animated movie tells the story of Blanca, a white snake demon who loses her memory while disguised as a woman. Rescued by a kind-hearted snake hunter, she falls in love with him.

The animated movie offers a visually stunning exploration of a mythical world, filled with enchanting landscapes and magical creatures. It perfectly portrays the connection between the characters and their natural environment, revealing the delicate balance between the human and supernatural worlds. The animation and the visual elements create an immersive atmosphere in the movie. All in all, White Snake offers a fascinating blend of mysticism, romance, and a celebration of the world of nature and its spirits.

Earlier we wrote about the 10 best cartoons with New Year's atmosphere for all the family.