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North Vancouver fundraising film event to raise cash for Ukrainian military

All proceeds from the Feb. 10 Reel Aid event at Centennial Theatre will be donated to a Ukrainian military unit comprised of skilled citizens, including a number of filmmakers
Ukrainian film director Khrystyna Syvolap will host a fundraiser for Ukrainian military at the Centennial Theatre Feb. 10. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

A North Vancouver filmmaker is hoping to raise awareness for the ongoing war in Ukraine with a film fundraising event at the Centennial Theatre in February.

Reel Aid, taking place two years after Russia announced its full scale invasion, will honour the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, the millions forced to flee their homes and those still fighting on the frontlines, said organizer Khrystyna Syvolap.

Syvolap, an award-winning film director and Ukrainian Forbes 30 under 30 recipient, fled the war-torn country in 2022 for Vancouver, settling on the North Shore where she was “embraced by the supportive film industry,” she said.

“It’s been nearly two years since I woke up that early morning to bombs dropping in my hometown of Kiev,” said Syvolap. “I can still feel the fear I had as I drove west out of the city towards Poland with my daughter in the backseat, and only a bag of belongings each.”

Syvolap said she hopes the event will bring awareness to the thousands of people recruited by the Ukrainian Armed Forces who weren’t professional soldiers – many of them filmmakers, like herself – and the hospitality of the North Shore community.

“As a film director, I would like to honour those in the film industry in Ukraine who are now on the front lines protecting our citizens, while also giving back to a community here in North Vancouver that did so much for me,” she said.

Leading the event will be a screening of Syvolap’s film Viddana, a historical drama based on bestselling novel Felix Austria by Ukrainian author Sofia Andrukhovych.

The film, also showcased locally in March last year at the annual fundraising gala YVR Screen Scene For Ukraine, is a period drama “spiced with fantasy,” said the director. It follows two young women from a small town on the outskirts of Austro-Hungary, as they navigate a growing co-dependent relationship..

Screened in Ukrainian with English subtitles, the film will also include a special tribute to the film’s editor, Viktor Onysko, who was killed in combat in December of 2022. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director, while a silent auction later in the evening will see guests bid on items donated from North Vancouver businesses.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Adam Tactical Group, a Ukrainian military unit comprising skilled citizens, among them, a number of “talented filmmakers,” said Syvolap.

“Ukrainians keep fighting for their freedom in every way they can, but they need the world’s support,” she said. “It’s important to keep reminding the democratic world that we need their help.”

Reel Aid
Saturday Feb. 10 7:30 p.m. (door open 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Centennial Theatre
Visit the theatre’s website for tickets.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.