Weapons of the Cultural Front: The Film “Strong as the Earth” Struck the Hearts of Brussels Politicians

russian aggression against Ukraine has been going on for the tenth year, of which more than 450 days have been a direct genocide by the russian federation against Ukraine. The importance of the Ukrainian Victory is very keenly felt all over the world because only it will launch the International Tribunal to punish the aggressor and become a guarantee of peace on the entire continent.

It is very important for Ukraine to tell the world the truth and show our realities in the fight against authoritarianism.

It was for this purpose that the ANTS Network team, together with colleagues from the International Center for Ukrainian Victory (ICUV), organized a screening of the documentary film “Strong as the Earth” in Brussels. The premiere took place as part of an advocacy visit to Brussels by Ukrainian civil society activists and volunteers.

A tape about the resilience and faith of Ukrainians in themselves and their country

“Strong as the Earth” is a documentary project of the “ANTS” of the National Interests Advocacy Network, created with the assistance of the “Renaissance” International Fund. This is a project about ordinary, unusual Ukrainians. About those who feel responsible for their loved ones, acquaintances, and often even distant and strangers. About those who feel responsible for the country as a whole. Responsibility for what it is and what it will be. Because they know: each of them is Ukraine. This is a project about faith – that the war will definitely end. And it will definitely end with the victory of Ukraine. Because in different parts of the country, there are ordinary extraordinary people. People who are as strong as the earth…

The plot is based on the history of people from four regions: two partially occupied by the Russian army, Kyiv and Chernihiv, and two rear regions in the west of Ukraine, Lviv and Rivne. The film shows the lives of internally displaced people —people who relocated their businesses, rebuilt their homes or urban infrastructure, or simply continued to work despite the risks of war.

How stories of Ukrainian courage and will to live captivated the hearts of the Brussels audience

The Brussels premiere brought together Members of the European Parliament, civil society activists, representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora, film heroes – Anna Bohatyrova and Lesya Gerasymyv, and documentary director Lyudmila Melnyk. Among the guests of honor were Witold Waszczykowski, Polish MEP and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Vsevolod Chentsov, Head of Mission of Ukraine to the European Union.

The purpose of the show is not only to show the resilience and faith of Ukrainians in themselves, in their country, and in the people around them, but also to inspire the West to rebuild and to show new ways and personal stories of heroism. And also to show how in Ukraine, in the conditions of war, civil society is being hardened, which is important in the context of international partnership and for attracting investments.

Such shows are no less important for the fight against russian propaganda and disinformation. russia has long used its propaganda narratives to sow chaos and discord in the world. That is why tapes like “Strong as the Earth” are an element of the fight against disinformation because they tell about real people who survived the occupation and shelling, about people who lost loved ones in this war, became disabled, were left homeless, and did not lose their faith and steadfastness in the face of all these horrors.

Sincere emotions: from thunderous applause to tears, from smiles to open admiration, the film caused a real resonance among the audience. The ability of Ukrainians to build their lives even in conditions of constant shelling and full-scale war should become a real inspiration for other nations.

“Strong as the Earth” and its heroes also impressed our ambassador, Vsevolod Chentsov.

During this advocacy trip, the Ukrainian delegation also had meetings with MEPs Rasa Juknevičienė and Andrius Kubilius (Lithuania). We are grateful for the words of support from our Lithuanian partners, who promised to help us organize a screening of the film in Vilnius. We also met MEP Anna Fotyga from Poland, and Markus Poesentrup, MEP Michael Gahlerther’s assistant (Germany). Next, we had a chance to meet Tanel Tang, a member of the EU Support Group for Ukraine. He was interested in the role of young people in the future reconstruction of Ukraine and expressed his desire to help with the promotion of our documentary in Belgium.

Another important meeting was with Mircea Nanka from StratCom Ukraine (Strategic communications center). We talked about countering russian propaganda and its influence in the world and his experience of bringing journalists from the EU and around the world to Ukraine to cover an objective picture of the war.

Only the joint policy of Ukraine and the European Union will make it possible to successfully counteract hybrid russian influences throughout the world. For example, according to previous agreements, the tape “Strong as the Earth” will be seen not only in Europe but also in the countries of Africa and Asia, where the influence of russian propaganda is enormous. It is there that we need to work and make maximum efforts so that the russian federation loses its weight in their eyes. We should explain to them that we are choosing our identity and freedom. It must be understood that the Global South is very diverse. There are countries that openly support russia, for example, Iran and Syria; there are those that support Ukraine and help us in every way, for example, Taiwan and Australia. But there are also those who “refuse”. It is with such states that it is necessary to work hard and show that the whole world will be safe only when the russian federation receives a military defeat, loses the support of partners on all continents, receives a fair punishment for the genocide it has committed, and pays all reparations.

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