Chiswick Cinema shows award winning documentary to mark second anniversary of the Ukraine war

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb

Chiswick Cinema shows BAFTA-winning 20 Days in Mariupol in support of Ukraine, as war reaches the two-year mark

Guest blog by Diane Chandler

As Saturday marked the grim second anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Diane Chandler, a Chiswick based author who has written about the country, has written a guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar on how supporters of Ukraine’s struggle against Russia can best offer their help to its beleaguered citizens. Diane got to know Ukraine in the 1990s while working there for the EU.

Chiswick Cinema is showing several screenings of the documentary 20 Days in Mariupol, which won the Bafta Award for Best Documentary, and is widely tipped to win the Best Documentary category in this year’s Oscars too. There will be a collection for a Ukrainian charity.

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb

Guest blog by Diane Chandler

24 February 2024 marked the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Who can forget those tanks gathered at the border – and then terrifyingly snaking their way towards Kyiv?

The whole world believed that Ukraine would fall within just three days. Well here we are, two years later, and this remarkable nation is still holding out. Albeit at enormous human cost, with thousands of soldiers and civilians dead in this barbaric and futile war.

I used to work in Ukraine back in the 1990s just after communism fell; travelled across this incredible country, met thousands of amazing resilient and proud Ukrainians. Those fighting now would have been babes in arms when I last worked there.

As we know, the front line is long. 620 miles long, in fact. Which is greater than the distance from Land’s End to John O’Groats. No surprise really that little progress has been made to push the Russians back, given the feat at stake.

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb

As it emerges from another freezing winter, Ukraine is currently desperate for weapons, ammunition – and those F-16s promised by several Western countries. Astoundingly, they are able to shoot down so many of the incoming missiles aimed at civilian structures on a daily basis, but without this air power many still get through. Destroying homes and killing families.

President Zelensky must surely be a key reason behind the robust resistance demonstrated by Ukraine? Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they said back then, many Ukrainians having not rated him until he showed his mettle.

Remember that iconic photo of him with his staff during the first days of war? He has repeatedly called for more weapons, more aid, and the use of frozen Russian assets to begin the reconstruction of villages, towns  and cities.

We currently await with bated breath the outcome of a Congress vote on the $60 billion of military aid on the table. And, while his call for NATO membership might be fanciful in the eyes of many, surely EU membership (also tricky given Hungary’s resistance) should be a priority to form that buffer? After all, Ukraine is a bigger European country than any other in the European Union.

Impossible, really, for us here in Chiswick to know how to help. But there are tried and tested charities out there, which are supporting both Ukrainian civilians and the Ukrainian Armed Forces with medical aid, food, heating, ambulances and military equipment.

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb

The AUGB (Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain) whom I know well, have had a Go Fund Me page since day one and are getting civilian aid in through three local agents on the ground. The Ukrainian Institute in London, whom I also know well, have vouched for the credibility of three other charities. I have donated to all without incident. See below for website links.

You may also wish to help #keepukraineonthefrontpage via social media? I follow two young female journalists Margo Gontar (@margogontar) and Yaroslava Antipina (@strategywoman) who give daily updates of their everyday lives in Kyiv. Also British volunteer, Richard Woodruff (@frontlinekit) who has been driving food and military aid to the front line since soon after war began.

I have donated to all, via buy me a coffee, but would not recommend generally donating on social media. For the very latest strategic news I also follow Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashcehnko_en) a former adviser to the Ukrainian government.

And I would urge you all to see the powerful and moving documentary, 20 Days in Mariupol, which Chiswick Cinema is showing this week in support of Ukraine, while also collecting for the AUGB-led charity.

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb; Evgeniy Konstantinovich Maloletka, the Ukrainian journalist and photographer who covered the siege of Mariupol during the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Two Ukrainian journalists found themselves on the ground in Mariupol before Russia invaded and stayed put to record the first 20 days of invasion. Obviously at huge personal risk to themselves. Since I first saw this documentary, I’ve not stopped thinking about those Ukrainians filmed and what may have become of them, and I guarantee the film will stay with you.

Screenings are on Thursday 29 February at 9pm. The following Monday 4 March at 2pm and again on Wednesday 6 March at 6pm. Follow this link to book:

Image above: Still from 20 Days in Mariupol; image IMDb

Charities supporting Ukraine

 AUGB-led Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal – food, water, medical aid & heating to civilians:

Come Back Alive – assistance to the military & veteran rehabilitation:

Leleka Care – support for frontline medical professionals:

Hospitallers – medical supplies & ambulances for civilian paramedics:

Diane Chandler is the author of the romantic novel  The Road To Donetsk, ‘The heartbreaking journey of an overseas aid worker from idealism to realism’.

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