How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire

UK, 2012, 75 minutes
Written and Directed by Dan Edelstyn
A film by Dan Edelstyn and Hilary Powell

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Public Exhibition Formats: DCP, BluRay, Digibeta, DVD

★★★★ The Times (London)
★★★★ Irish Times
★★★★ 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 traveling 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 (London)

"A barnstorming tale of vodka and revolution." –BBC Radio

"Sincere, charming and inventive filmmaking." –British Film Institute

"Charming, inventive and lively." –Time Out London

"Unfolds as a travelogue, a memoir, a historical recreation, and a detective story." –Irish Times

"A tender, extraordinary underdog tale filled with humor, fear and above all, spirit. A heady delight of a documentary that will warm your cockles." –Empire Magazine

Selected Screenings

Glasgow Jewish Film Club (2016)
Spertus Institute, Chicago (2016)
Atlantic Jewish Film Festival (2014)
Mexico Jewish Film Festival: Mexico City, Cuernavaca, San Miguel de Allende (2014)
IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (2013)
Axelrod Performing Arts Center, New Jersey (2013)
Suffolk JCC Film Festival (Commack, NY) (2013)
Jewish Center of the Hamptons (2013)
KinoFest NYC (2013)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2013)
Gene Siskel-Stranger Than Fiction Doc Fest Chicago, IL (2013)
Philly Jewish Film Festival Doc Fest - Filmmakers Present (2013)
Washington DC Jewish Film Festival - Filmmakers Present (2013)
New York Jewish Film Festival - Filmmakers Present (2013)
The JCC in Manhattan (2013)
Columbus Jewish Film Festival (Georgia) (2013)
Berlin Jewish Film Festival
Berkshire Jewish Film Festival
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Sao Paolo Jewish Film Festival
Jewishfilm.2012 The National Center for Jewish Film 15th Annual Film Festival (Boston)
ICA London
BFI London Film Festival
Queens Theater, Belfast
UK Jewish Film Festival


British filmmaker Daniel Edelstyn became mildly obsessed after discovering his grandmother’s journals in the attic of his family home. Maroussia Zorokovich, born into a wealthy Ukrainian Jewish family, was a budding writer and dancer before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution rewrote her destiny and sent her into exile. When Edelstyn travels to the Ukraine in search of his roots and discovers that the vodka distillery opened by his great grandfather in 1904 is still in operation, he decides—despite his utter lack of business experience—to become a liquor entrepreneur and import the vodka to the UK. This funny, charming documentary employs an ambitious mixture of vérité cinematography and inventive animated sequences created by and starring the artist Hilary Powell (Edelstyn’s wife).

Download Press Kit (PDF)


B The Guardian | Read Article
B Sunday Express (Double page feature) | Read Article
B London Evening Standard | Read Article
B Hackney Citizen | Read Article
B Jewish Chronicle | Read Article
B Jewish Telegraph | Read Article
B The Times of London (Review) | Read Article
B Camden New Journal | Read Article
B Radio – BBC Arts Extra - Radio – Robert Elmes BBC London | Listen
B The Independent | Read Article
B The Sunday Times Style Magazine | Read Article
B The Times of London How My Ukranian Granny Drove Me to Drink | Read Article
B Irish Times – 4 Stars | Read Review
B Empire Magazine | Read Article
B Cinemania | Read Review
B Jewish Chronicle How Vodka Revived a Filmmaker's Spirit | Read Article
B Close-Up Film | Read Review
B Radio – BBC Radio 4 | Listen
B Radio – BBC World Service Europe Today | Listen

Film Website

Filmmakers' Statements

Director Dan Edelstyn
“How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire is a meditation on loss and identity and a celebration of family and life itself, cleverly disguised as a screwball business adventure. This film is so special to me as it has allowed me to explore my family’s history and discover beautiful and tragic stories I could never have guessed were just below the surface. It’s a very personal story of me and my grandmother Maroussia Zorokovich, but I do hope it will speak to audiences in a universal way.”

Executive Producer Christopher Hird
“This film comes in the great tradition of documentaries in which filmmakers investigate their own family and, in so doing, tell a much bigger story. Here we have the Bolshevik Revolution, the Collapse of Communism and the sectarianism of Northern Ireland in the 1930’s and 40’s brought together. The film combines observational documentary, reportage and imaginative animated recreation telling a story of migration, identity and business with wit and passion.”


A Dartmouth Films and Optimistic Production.
A film by Daniel Edelstyn and Hilary Powell
Written and Directed by DANIEL EDELSTYN
Original Music by ANDREW SKEET
Directors of Photography ROSS BIRKBECK (Drama), HILARY POWELL (Documentary) Animator/Compositor SIMON BALL
ANTHONY STYLES as the evil Bolshevik Stepanovich
CONRAD ASQUITH as Great Grandfather Ilya Zorokovich
DAN EDELSTYN as Grandpa Max
HILARY POWELL as Granny Maroussia

Purchase the Film

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information

Home Use Blu-Ray: $34.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $295

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Classroom/Library Use Blu-Ray: $295

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us

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