Dear friends and supporters,
We invite you to join us on a timely and essential film, "Taras," a powerful documentary that delves into the poignant journey of a soldier who volunteered for war but now seeks solace and healing amidst the Carpathian mountains. With this film, we will raise awareness and further funding for Ukrainian Action and the important work they are doing on the front lines.
In 2022 Ukrainian snowboarder Taras Bihus volunteered himself for the war against Russia, eventually spending five months on the front lines defending his country. Now home, he is working to find peace amongst the mountains as the memories of conflict haunt him. Having spent years competing throughout Europe, he knew the next chapter of life would bring him far from the mountains. What he didn't expect was the horror he would see along the way. After two months of training, Taras was dispatched to the front lines of the war in Ukraine, spending five months there before being discharged due to an old injury. Now home and in the army reserves, Taras is grappling with how to assimilate into society and cope with the things he has seen, all with the looming threat of getting called back to war hanging over him. Within nature, he finds the peace he needs to begin processing his experience.
In March, Director Zeppelin Zeerip and Director of Photography Ben Sturgulewski walked across the border from Poland and spent nine days in Ukraine, traveling the country as air raid sirens sounded above their heads. Alongside Taras they were able to film the Ukrainian military training, visit his home and school, and head to the mountains to capture the peace he finds within snowboarding and the natural world, gaining unprecedented access to him and shooting over five terabytes of footage along the way.
Our primary mission with "Taras" is to raise awareness about the often-neglected challenges faced by soldiers returning from the horrors of war. Through Taras’ courageous pursuit of peace amidst the mountains, we aim to shed light on the importance of mental health support for our veterans and the vital role of nature in their recovery process.
To navigate the complex logistics of a war zone we partnered with the non-profit Ukrainian Action, a registered 501-C3 that has raised over $3m since March 2022 to donate and deliver over 200 pickup trucks and ambulances to Ukrainian heroes for medical evacuations and the distribution of humanitarian aid near the front lines of the war.. Each truck was driven from the UK by volunteers, laden with critical humanitarian and medical supplies, and delivered to those risking their lives. This is not a documentary 'looking back' on a war - this is a documentary from a war that is happening right now, today, with a real chance to have an impact. The film will feature a direct 'call to action' text slide at the end of the film with a chance to donate to Ukrainian Action, ensuring the film is not just a feel-good piece of branded content, but something that truly makes a difference.
Matchstick Productions' digital distribution strategy through Matchstick’s 250,000+ social media followers, YouTube, and Vimeo. We will raise funds for Ukrainian Action to assist with ongoing aid efforts.
Matchstick is the most award-winning ski film company in history with twelve “Movie of the Year” awards, “Best Documentary” award, three Emmy nominations for outstanding camerawork, “Viewers’ Choice” runner-up at Tribeca Film Festival, and countless honors for editing and cinematography.
Zeppelin Zeerip is a filmmaker and conservationist with a passion for character and environmental-driven narratives. His passion for protecting the natural world has brought him from the banks of the Arctic Ocean to the halls of Congress as he has lobbied members of Congress to stand in support of America's public lands and prevent oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Zeppelin is a Hewlett Foundation grant recipient and member of the Protect Our Winters athlete alliance. Previous clients include REI, Vice, Red Bull, Burton Snowboards, and The Olympic Channel.
Ben Sturgulewski grew up on a rugged and remote island in Alaska’s Aleutian Chain, inspiring a life dedicated to the exploration of the world’s wild side, and the people who call it home. Infused in all aspects of filmmaking as a director, cinematographer, editor, and writer, he’s worked in definitively nasty and awe-inspiring conditions around the globe, bringing a unique cinematic perspective to a wide range of filmmaking mediums, be it documentary, narrative, action sports, or commercial.
How Your Support Helps:
Creating a documentary of this magnitude requires significant resources, dedication, and a passionate team of filmmakers. Your generous contributions will play a pivotal role in bringing this powerful story to life, allowing us to:
Cover production expenses: From equipment and crew to travel costs, we were able to capture Taras’ profound transformation in stunning detail.
Facilitate post-production: Crafting a compelling narrative necessitates meticulous editing, sound design, and post-production work to create a visually and emotionally immersive experience for our audience.
Raise mental health awareness: Your support will help us amplify the message of PTSD's impact on soldiers and advocate for increased support and understanding of their struggles.
Film festival submissions: We aspire to share Taras story with audiences worldwide through film festivals, bringing attention to this crucial subject on an international stage.
Distribute the documentary: By supporting the distribution efforts, you will help us reach a broader audience, fostering empathy and understanding among viewers from all walks of life.
Any amount: ‘Thank You’ credit at the end of the film
$5,000: Co-Producer credit in film
$10,000: Executive Producer credit in the film
Join Us on this Journey:
As we embark on this transformational odyssey, we sincerely ask for your support in making "Taras" a reality. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, will catalyze the message of healing, hope, and resilience. Every dollar, every share, and every word of encouragement counts. Let us come together to honor the courage of our soldiers, celebrate the power of nature, and inspire countless others to find peace amidst life's most challenging battles.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Ukrainian Action, Zeppelin, Ben, and the Matchstick Production team.
*All donations are tax-deductible through registered 501-C3 Ukrainian Action.