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Klitschko brothers film screens in solidarity with Ukraine

March 20, 2022

The award-winning documentary "Klitschko" will be shown in German cinemas to raise money for Ukraine. The boxing champions are now figures of resistance against Russia's invasion of their home country.

A still from documentary ' Klitschko': two men play chess, one raising his arms.
The Klitschko brothers have always remained competitiveImage: majestic.de

Ukraine's Klitschko brothers, former heavyweight boxing champions of the world and pro-democracy activists, have joined the front lines of the battle to save Kyiv from Russian occupation. 

"Klitschko," an award-winning documentary about boxing brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko — the current mayor of Kyiv — men who have become symbols of resistance against Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, will now be screened around Germany to raise funds for victims of the war.

The proceeds from the screenings in over 450 cinemas on March 20 will go to the "A Heart for Children" campaign for aid projects in Ukraine.

"The response of German cinemas to our initiative has been overwhelming," Cineplex Group CEO Kim Ludolf Koch told German press agency, dpa. "All the major chains and also many independent houses immediately agreed to participate."

War in Ukraine: Wladimir Klitschko urges world to 'act now'

'Intense interpersonal dynamic'

The 2011 film by German documentary-maker Sebastian Dehnhardt tells the story of the lives of the two legendary Ukrainian boxing world champions: From their childhood in Ukraine and their beginnings as kickboxers to their move to Germany as young boxing hopefuls and their great successes — and defeats — as international champions.

Mother Nadesha and father Vladimir, who has since passed away, also have their say. A diverse mix of interviews combined with very private archive material — and intense, up-close fight sequences — show why the brothers stick together, and the source of their will to persevere.

As the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Though this artful film … does not stint on inside-the-ring footage, its main attraction is the intense interpersonal dynamic between the brothers."

The two fighters had to promise their mother Nadesha very early on that they would never box against each other.

"The same blood flows in your veins, after all," she says in the film.

A man speaks while holding up a phone
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks with journalists outside an apartment building hit by Russian incendaries in KyivImage: Pavel Nemecek/CTK/picture alliance

Sensitive portrait of two sports legends

Although Sebastian Dehnhardt's documentary also deals in detail with the sporting merits of the fraternal fighters, he also aims in creating an intimate portrait of two brothers and their parents and confidants.

In the boxing ring, the Klitschkos were considered heroes, and they became figures of identification for young and old alike in Ukraine.

This was not least because of their discipline, their pronounced sense of family, and strong sense of social responsibility.

Vitali, the 50-year-old older brother, has been mayor of Kyiv since 2014. Since Putin's attack on their homeland, his brother Wladimir, five years younger, has also been with him, working together to organize Ukrainian resistance against Russian troops.

Former world-class athletes Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are now fighting their toughest battle in the defense of their homeland.

sb/eg (with dpa)