Project Overview


War focuses the mind on the essence of life. Family, friends, food, heritage, what you’ll fight for, what you might die to keep. The choices one makes each morning when the sun rises. 

To The Zero Line takes place during a time of war, during the full scale invasion of a European country, Ukraine. 

At stake are the hospitals, churches, music, art, children, pregnant women, expectant fathers, against a force determined to murder all of it. Genocide. 

You experience the perpetual cycle of life of the invaded, the birth of two children, a wedding, death, the loss of a loved one, Soldiers in battle on the zero line, and back in the cities, towns and villages each person has his or her own personal zero line. 

You experience people from outside the country flooding in to help in what ways they can. Each adding a small part to a big puzzle.  

You might ask yourself. How am I so different? What would I do if death comes knocking on my door or my parents’ door or my school door or my church’s door. The film is an opportunity to think for yourself. 

Everybody in life is going to the Zero Line. The point of contact with your worst fears. Where the enemy is. Horrible hours, and brutal seconds. Where you need true friends and your best moments. 


A note from Ben Goldhagen, director of To The Zero Line.

Act I

Nobody in this great world of ours rose up to rescue my father’s family, except for one man, and that man, Traian Popovichi, saved my father and saved my father’s mother and my father’s father from murder. But for that one man, that one brave man, my father would not be alive today, and I would not be alive today, and this film would not have been made.

During the Holocaust, Traian Popovichi was the mayor of Chernovtiz, a small city that sits on the Prut River, and today they call that city Chernivtsi, Ukraine. The mayor back then was ordered to deport all the Jews. Sadly, many were, yet he schemed a way to save 10,000 of them.

Decades later, my brother Daniel and I talked about it on the third day of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukrainian territory. Who, would anybody, righteously stand up for the people of Ukraine now, in their moment of need.

Act II

Russia’s Plan A, a blitzkrieg to decapitate the Kyiv government was failing. 

It was apparent to my brother, who’s known around the world for studying and writing on what he calls eliminationist campaigns, what some call genocide, that Russia was pulling out Plan B. Would I be watching what he thought would be a prolonged war of the same purpose, to wipe out Ukraine, its people, culture, church, language, everything Ukraine out of existence?

I was alarmed by Western politicians meagerly provisioning implements of war which people in Ukraine needed desperately to fight off the coming onslaught. My brother has documented that in these kinds of situations when the world shows insufficient interest, the bad guy will win and usually does.

I decided to raise my hand. Though I had never directed a feature film before, I set out to make one and that people would listen. I had worked in tv and made short films, but nothing this ambitious, and I had never been in a war zone. Yet confident in my knowledge of history and the Russian national project about to unfold, and my knowledge of media, I set out for Ukraine to make a film.


I envisioned a film called To The Rescue, that was going to focus on people coming from outside to assist Ukraine, since nobody, but that man mentioned above came to rescue my father and his family.

Before I crossed the ocean from the United States to Ukraine, someone said to me from inside, you know, it’s not just people outside coming to the rescue. There are people here, Ukrainians are helping each other in every way possible. When I got to Lviv, I encountered a beehive of activity. Everyone contributing their part to a common cause. As a fan of the resultant film put it, “this is how a country goes to war”.

The act of making it soon transcended filmmaking. People in cities, towns and villages, politicians, soldiers, priests, people from all walks of life came forward to get involved in front of and behind the camera. The word spread that we were telling their real story from the inside, so people on the outside could come face to face and heart to heart with the people and the culture, what they hold dear and understand the genocidal peril they face.

Act IV

Everyone I met and know in Ukraine is grateful for the weapons they’ve received. But the stuff they are getting isn’t good enough to win. They need more of it and faster. The war could have been over if they got the right stuff sooner. There are only three American Patriot missile systems in Ukraine now, and they protect the cities, the rest of the country is without. When I went to the 24th Brigade in Bakhmut during the heyday of Wagner, I thought I’d film soldiers with modern UK and USA weapons. Instead, I learned that the country hadn’t received enough UK and USA weapons to provision this brigade, but for a Barrett sniper rifle. The weapons you see in use in the film are pretty much old, some rusty, from the Soviet era and with these the Ukrainian soldier has had to make do. They fight mostly with the same crappy weapons that the Russians have aimed at them. Ukraine has not been sent hardware to hit in quantity and much beyond a few kilometers from the front lines. The US has determined by holding back longer range weapons that this is a meat grinder war. It need not be. The Ukrainian people facing a bear will not surrender to it.

A sufficient amount of more modern weapons from the West would tip the balance of battle in Ukraine's favor and end this war and save Ukraine's people and culture. They don’t even need the most modern stuff, just better than what they have and in adequate quantity. The Ukrainians hang on brilliantly due to superior leadership, their historic homegrown innovation with drones, combined arms, and most importantly, the whole country is united in purpose and in spirit. They are on their own land with everything at stake. I am certain if their backs are to the wall, they will not give up, they will fight with bare hands.

Act V

The film is available for free streaming worldwide, so everyone outside Ukraine will know what the people inside Ukraine are experiencing, and to honor the many righteous people who are coming to their support against this genocidal national project of the Russian federation.

For those with a few extra dollars, there's a donate button that will aid some of the people you become acquainted with in the film. If you want to do more, share a link to this site with three friends.

Hopefully, soon, the governments of the West will provide the quantity and the type of tools required for victory. The people of Ukraine know, what Winston Churchill knew, that "Without victory, there is no survival.”

And maybe, just maybe, there are moments in this film that will linger with someone somewhere.