Documentary film “Cities and Their Heroes” presented in Chernihiv

20 June 2023

On June 17, the premiere of the film series of six documentaries “Cities and Their Heroes” was held in Chernihiv with the assistance of the USAID Economic Resilience Activity (ERA). One of the films is dedicated to Chernihiv and its heroic inhabitants.

Private security guard Artem Rakitin shares his story in the film. By fate, he became a guide for tens of thousands of people who wanted to leave Chernihiv during the siege and active hostilities in the suburbs. Risking his own life, Rakitin, and his comrades, evacuated more than 26,000 residents of the city of Chernihiv, and thanks to their efforts, all these lives were saved. Not a single civilian was killed or injured during the evacuation – as documented facts show. This amazing and true story of courage and self-sacrifice of Ukrainian men formed the basis of the film.

“We did everything that depended on us. For 10-11 days, we practically did not get out of the car,”Rakitin recalled at the premiere. “For me, those events are really about the value of a person and human life. And it changed me, changed my meaning of life and attitude towards it. I thank the whole team with whom we did all this!”

The shooting (of the film) was both easy and difficult at the same time,” recalls the project’s producer Anastasiia Verheles. We hesitated a little as to whether this is really our hero. But director Olha Hibelinda insisted that Artem’s story should be in our film. I am grateful to Artem for his trust. And to his wife – for entrusting us with her son, who is also in our film.”

During the week leading up to the premiere, the organizers also hosted a photo exhibition of the “Cities and Their Heroes” project in Chernihiv. It showcasedphotos taken in various cities of Ukraine that suffered from the Russia’s invasion – landscapes of cities and photos of individual objects, as well as photos of residents of cities that played an important role in the protection of their land from Russia’s invading forces.

The heroes of the photo exhibition from Chernihiv were the city residents whom the war turned into real heroes: a volunteer Olena Kotenko, a copywriter Natalia Orlova, an employee of the State Emergency Service Maksym Zhylko, a musician and volunteer Ihor Khonin, the head of the traumatology department of Chernihiv City Hospital No. 2 Bohdan Rozhylo, the owner of an architectural office and a combat medic Artur Dorokhin, and the chief engineer of electrical networks Andrii Haliuha.

The goal of the project “Cities and Their Heroes” is to showcase the truth about the heroism of the Ukrainian people and the transformation of an ordinary person into a real hero. In six Ukrainian cities – Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Okhtyrka, Bashtanka and Ivankiv –  heroes were chosen for documentary films about these cities. Each film reveals its own page of volunteering, efficiency, and love for one’s country by Ukrainians. The directors of the film are Olha Hibelinda and Andrii Lytvynenko.

The film series have already been shown in the cities where they were filmed – Bashtanska, Okhtyrka, Ivankiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv. They will be presented in Lviv on Saturday, June 24, and in Kyiv on July 3. Learn more about “Cities and Their Heroes” on website of the project and on social networks.