(WSYR-TV) – As our country celebrates freedom, Americans can’t help but think of the liberties taken from our allies in Ukraine and many of us wonder what we can do. Marshall Strauss thought there had to be a way for his small Massachusetts movie house to help out.
“We reached out to people in the community and offered to show a film and donate all proceeds to Ukrainian aid,” says Strauss. “Everyone thought it was a good idea. Nobody had a movie.
But then he found “The Guide”, a 2014 film by a Ukrainian director. It was about an American boy caught up in previous struggles against Soviet oppression, and it had never been shown in the United States. The director signed a benefit screening, with the provision that all ticket sales go to Ukrainian relief efforts. Things took off from there.
“By the third week of March, more than 600 theaters in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands had agreed to show the film. With this same provision, this proceeds go to Ukrainian relief,” Strauss continued.
Those numbers have now reached nearly 700 theaters, including the Congressional screening on Capitol Hill. And, since March, they’ve raised over $130,000.
Strauss says that every dollar these theaters received from ticket sales comes back to him and is passed on to Ukraine.
“People care about this effort and you know, it’s not like that money is going to weaponry,” says Nat Tobin, owner of the Manlius Arts Cinema. “It goes toward humanitarian efforts.”
The Manlius Arts Cinema signed on as soon as they were invited to participate. A 7:00 p.m. slot on Sunday night of Independence weekend seemed like the right fit, and it fits their schedule.
“It would be nice if there was a national effort among smaller arthouse theaters like ours to get involved, to get more involved in the issues that matter to us,” Tobin says.
Stauss points out that you can make a difference, that passivity is not the answer, but activity.