Row House Cinema supports Ukraine with benefit screening of The Guide | Pittsburgh City Paper

Row House Cinema supports Ukraine with benefit screening of The Guide

click to enlarge A man and a young boy hold walking sticks in the Ukrainian film The Guide.
Photo: Courtesy of Stand with Ukraine through Film
The Guide (Povodyr)
In the weeks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, calls to help the country rang across the United States and throughout the world. Businesses boycotted Russian products, groups launched humanitarian efforts for Ukrainian refugees, and religious communities asked everyone to pray for Ukraine.

In the months since, however, those calls have quieted, even as Russian forces continue to devastate cities across Ukraine. While the U.S. government has stepped in, with Reuters and other media outlets reporting that President Joe Biden's administration now wants to commit over $800 million in aid to Ukraine, the average citizen appears to have mostly forgotten about the war.

In Pittsburgh, a group will try to refocus audiences on Ukraine with a film screening at Row House Cinema.

The Stand with Ukraine through Film project will host an event for The Guide (or Povodyr in Ukrainian) at Row House on Wed., Aug. 24, a day designated as the Independence Day of Ukraine. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Ukraine Relief Fund, described on the Row House website as supporting "humanitarian organizations working in or near Ukraine in support of the Ukrainian people."

In addition to ticket sales, Row House will also set up QR codes in the theater's lobby for guests to scan and make additional donations.

The Guide was released in 2014 but, according to a press release, only recently became commercially available for the first time to cinemas across the U.S. and the world. Helmed by Ukrainian director Oles Sanin, the film follows an American boy and a blind Ukrainian minstrel who must survive "Soviet efforts to exterminate the Ukrainian people in the 1930s through starvation and other policies."
click to enlarge A man and a young boy press their ears to the ground in the Ukrainian film The Guide.
Photo: Courtesy of Stand with Ukraine through Film
The Guide (Povodyr)
"We are delighted to bring this project to Pittsburgh and partner with Row House Cinema during these extraordinary times," says Lisa Vucelich, a spokesperson for Stand with Ukraine through Film. "With so many Ukrainian Americans living in this area, we are especially grateful for their support, and we're proud to be working with them to assist those who need help in Ukraine."

Marshall Strauss serves as the lead organizer of Stand with Ukraine Through Film.  He and his wife, Elaine Gerdine, launched the project with a March screening at Cinema Salem, a three-screen community theater they own in Salem, Mass.

Strauss says that The Guide has since been shown in over 600 cinemas across the U.S. "This is a remarkably high number of theaters, given that The Guide is an independent film made overseas in a foreign language," he says.

He adds that, through the efforts of Stand With Ukraine Through Film, The Guide has also "played widely in Canada and in cinemas in Australia and Holland."

Strauss says that the screenings have generated $130,000 in the U.S. for Ukraine humanitarian relief. Overall, the number increases to $150,000 when adding contributions from Canada, Australia, and Holland. "The Canadian, Australian, and Dutch cinemas are sending the money to Ukraine independently of us," says Strauss.

Strauss agrees that the "intense interest in Ukraine has declined in America," and sees the project as once again raising awareness.

"The film is one way to remind people of the ongoing challenges that Ukraine faces," says Strauss. "Our project, Stand with Ukraine through Film, shows people that they can act to make a difference. And we are delighted that so many cinemas have decided to show this film and that so many people have decided to see it."

Stand with Ukraine through Film presents The Guide (Povodyr). 4:35 p.m. Wed., Aug. 24. Row House Cinema. 4115 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $15.

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