Tribeca Film Festival in New York to premiere documentary on animal rescue from Kharkiv eco-park

A still from Checkpoint Zoo film about saving the Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv
A still from Checkpoint Zoo film about saving the Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv

The renowned Tribeca Film Festival in New York will host the premiere of the American-Ukrainian documentary “Checkpoint Zoo” on June 6. This film highlights the harrowing evacuation of animals from Feldman Eco-Park in Kharkiv.

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Directed by Joshua Zeman, "Checkpoint Zoo" is a contender in the Tribeca Festival's Documentary Competition. The film chronicles the mission to save animals trapped at Feldman Eco-Park during the early stages of Russia's full-scale invasion and assault on Kharkiv. Thousands of animals were left with minimal food and water supplies, stuck in the crossfire.

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"The film showcases the devastating impact of war while celebrating the extraordinary bravery and compassion of those who rescued the animals,” the festival's synopsis said.

“Through gripping interviews and powerful footage captured by the participants themselves, this documentary sheds light on a frequently overlooked aspect of the Russian ongoing war against Ukraine, reminding us of the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to abandon hope in the face of incredible adversity."

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Joshua Zeman was inspired to create this film after seeing a video of a chimpanzee named Chichi running through Kharkiv's Freedom Square at the start of the invasion. Intrigued, Zeman contacted the ecopark administration and soon traveled to Kharkiv with his film crew.

"We wore bulletproof vests and helmets while filming, with bombs going off just nine yards (8 meters) away from us," Zeman shared in an interview with CNN.

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Zeman believes the story depicted in his film is of paramount importance.

"This is a film about the invisible victims of war," he said.

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Zeman's footage reveals a deserted and ravaged zoo that was once home to about 5,000 animals.

The film pays tribute to six workers who lost their lives during the rescue efforts, including a 15-year-old boy, Denys Selevin, who was helping his parents who worked at the zoo.

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In one poignant scene, the father of the deceased boy confronts a captured Russian soldier held by Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv.

"This is my child's blood," the father says, showing his blood-stained hands, "How am I supposed to feel about you after this?"

"Not all animals are animals, and not all humans are human, but many animals are human, and many humans are animals," zoo worker Andriy Tyvaniuk said, one of the film's characters, as quoted by CNN.

The Tribeca Film Festival will run in New York until June 16.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine