To help struggling families cope with the hardship of displacement, and to give Ukrainian kids the chance to feel like kids again, Polish film directors Bianca Lucas (Letters from the Ends of the World) and Weronika Jurkiewicz (The Vibrant Village) have teamed up to organize free film screenings for children and families at refugee reception centers near the Polish-Ukrainian border and throughout Poland. These impromptu Border Crossing Children’s Film Festival screenings began on March 2 and will continue indefinitely.
The films have been donated by producers and distributors from all over the world, who are waiving associated distribution rights and fees. They’re aimed at young children and infants, and most are animated shorts or features without dialogue in order to get around language barriers. Animoon Productions (Poland), interfilm berlin, Studio Film Bilder in Germany and the Czech Republic’s National Film Archive are all participating, and titles that have been shown to date include eight-minute short film Tobi and the Turbo Bus (directed and produced by Verena Fels) and a 12-minute short called Firefly from Dace Riduze.
The free screenings, which are running daily this month, are open to everyone in the refugee centers where they’re being shown. The organizers are keen to add additional titles to the lineup, and are particularly looking for more long-form features.
According to the UN’s refugee agency, the total number of refugees from Ukraine was sitting at 2.8 million as of March 12; and a UNICEF report indicates that more than half of these asylum-seekers are children. Upwards of one million refugees have entered Poland so far, and a growing number of them are children arriving on their own without family support, creating an escalating child protection crisis.