A movie theater in Salem, Massachusetts, is the first in the country to show a Ukrainian film meant to showcase Ukraine’s long struggle to free themselves from Russian occupation.
Opening to an American audience for the first time, "The Guide" -- a 2014 Ukrainian film by Oles Sanin -- was shown at the Salem Cinema on Sunday afternoon.
The special screening, meant to raise funds for the Ukraine Relief Fund, followed a string quartet performance of the Ukrainian national anthem before a full room that included Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and US Congressman Seth Moulton.
“This is inspiring because this is happening here in Salem and it's spreading across the country. So, Salem is the first and this movement to raise money through film by showing Ukrainian films and telling the story of Ukrainian people is now spreading to cities across America,” said Moulton.
The film’s director, who remains in Ukraine, worked with his friend and Colombia University Professor Yuri Shevchuck to bring the film to America at a time when his country is being pummeled by a Russian military and information campaign.
"The Guide" looks back at an earlier period of history when Ukrainians suffered famine by the soviets in the 1930s.
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“I hope that this film represents Ukrainians as real people; people with their own language, with their own history, with their own historical experience and their own aspirations,” said Shevchuck. “So that they understand, finally, that there is a nation that up until now was invisible.”
All the proceeds from this film and its screenings in theaters across the U.S. will go towards humanitarian relief in Ukraine -- just one more way Baker said people can show their support.
“I think it's critical for all of us who live in a free country and living in free countries around the world to take advantage of opportunities like this,” he said.
Baker said his administration is looking for more ways for the state to cut ties with Russia.
Salem Cinema plans to show an encore presentation of "The Guide" sometime in the next two weeks.