Bianca Jagger hails Independent TV’s ‘powerful and moving’ Ukraine documentary after UK premiere

More than 100 people gathered at the Frontline Club in central London to watch international correspondent Bel Trew’s documentary ‘The Body in the Woods’

Tara Cobham
Wednesday 26 April 2023 17:16 BST
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Jagger with Bel Trew (left) and Sasha Romantsova, from the Center for Civil Liberties (right), at the UK screening of Independent TV’s ‘The Body in the Woods’
Jagger with Bel Trew (left) and Sasha Romantsova, from the Center for Civil Liberties (right), at the UK screening of Independent TV’s ‘The Body in the Woods’ (Nate Mook/The Independent)

Bianca Jagger attended the UK premiere of Independent TV's documentary on war crimes in Ukraine on Tuesday evening, hailing it as a “powerful and moving” piece of reporting.

The 77-year-old veteran human rights defender joined more than 100 people at the Frontline Club in central London to watch The Body in the Woods.

The film follows the story of international correspondent Bel Trew's bid to find out the identity of a young Ukrainian man shot dead by Russian soldiers. She stumbled across his corpse lying in woodland with his hands tied behind his back.

Jagger said the documentary made her draw comparisons between Ukraine’s efforts to identify its victims and build war crimes cases with the decades of work spent documenting atrocities in countries that made up former Yugoslavia.

Watch: The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

“I was deeply moved by the film,” she said. “And felt it resonated with my work exposing the crimes committed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and the long struggle to identify victims of genocide through mass DNA analysis.”

She later tweeted: “Must watch The Body in the Woods - a very powerful and moving documentary with courageous correspondent Bel Trew, produced by Independent TV.”

Trew, who has reported from across Ukraine over the last year, was joined by Sasha Romantsova, executive director at the Center for Civil Liberties, and Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch, at a panel discussion afterwards.

The Body in the Woods focuses on Ukraine’s unprecedented search for thousands of its citizens – who have been disappeared and murdered by Russia – in the middle of Europe’s bloodiest war in generations.

Trew interviews police looking for bodies in Ukraine (The Independent)

Over the course of a year, the film follows Ukrainian families as they struggle to find and bury their murdered loved ones.

It comes as the International Criminal Court has issued its first arrest warrants against President Putin and a top aide.

Trew meets Vladislav, a teenager orphaned by the invasion who is reduced to living with his lawyer and pet hedgehog, and follows Vadym, who was forced to watch his entire family killed in front of his eyes.

Speaking after the screening, Trew said: “It meant a great deal to me to be able to screen the film at the Frontline Club, the home of journalism in London. And to be able to do justice to the heart of the documentary by hosting a discussion about the country’s long road to justice.

Romantsova and Trew at the screening (Nate Mook/The Independent)

“In a world of 24-hour news cycles, journalists so rarely get the space and time to be able to pursue and follow through a single story for a year. It was an immense privilege to be able to do that on a subject so close to my heart.

“I hope through the film we can not only help the pursuit of justice but raise awareness about what families in Ukraine face just trying to do the simplest act of all: burying their loved ones .”

The film premiered on 25 February in Ukraine at a special screening inside Kyiv railway station that was hosted by Ukrainian Railways. Two screenings were also held in Lviv, for the internally displaced in the west of the country. Most recently a screening was hosted in Beirut.

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