Save the Children has partnered with BAFTA award-winning director Jonathan Hodgson and Ukrainian illustrator Anna Ivanenko to produce “Margarita’s Story,” a captivating animated film documenting the harrowing journey of a child’s escape from Mariupol, Ukraine, in March 2022.

This powerful animation sheds light on the devastating impact of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where millions of children are caught in the crossfire. It captures the story of a family sheltering next to the Drama theatre, leaving just hours before it was bombed, reportedly killing hundreds of women and children sheltering inside.

The UN has verified over 24,000 civilian casualties since February 2022, including more than 1,500 children who have been injured or killed. The number of confirmed child casualties has surpassed 500, with at least one child losing their life every day in Ukraine. The film also addresses the ongoing risks faced by children due to the high contamination of explosive weapons, unexploded ordnance (UXOs), and mines. With over 2 million children at risk, the presence of explosive remnants of war continues to pose deadly threats, despite the removal of more than 250,000 UXOs since March 2022. 

The animation, titled “Margarita’s Story,” portrays the resilience and courage of a 10-year-old girl who endured the unimaginable horrors of war. Reflecting on her work, Anna Ivanenko, the award-winning Ukrainian illustrator, said, “Most of my work is about the war, as I use it to spread the truth about what is happening to my country, to tell our story in Ukraine. I chose the project as Mariupol is one of the biggest tragedies, and children are the most vulnerable people in this war. You can’t imagine what impact this will have on them in the future, my heart is bleeding when I hear about their suffering.”


Jonathan Hodgson, the BAFTA-winning animation director, expressed his appreciation for collaborating with Anna on Margarita’s Story. He stated, “It has been a humbling experience and a great honour to collaborate with Anna on Margarita’s Story. Unfazed by the turmoil of the war in her country, she has worked tirelessly and created some incredibly powerful and emotional images for the film. Undoubtedly, her direct experience of the war and her eye for detail has brought a level of authenticity and integrity to the animation, which would not have otherwise been possible.”

 The film will premiere at the prestigious international policy institute, Chatham House. The premiere will take place ahead of the Ukraine Recovery Conference, scheduled to be held in London from the 21st to the 22nd of June. As world leaders convene for the recovery conference to discuss the future of Ukraine, it is crucial that children’s needs are at the heart of their decisions.

 Sonia Khush, Country Director of Save the Children Ukraine, emphasised the shocking impact of the war on children and the importance of Margarita’s Story. She stated, “The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the lives of children. Margarita’s story, depicted through this powerful animation, vividly captures the unimaginable challenges faced by children like her. We must make sure all children in Ukraine are given their basic rights, including access to education, protection, and recovery from the trauma they have endured. This is what they all deserve. But we need the long-term commitment to achieve it.”

 Through “Margarita’s Story,” Save the Children, Jonathan Hodgson, and Anna Ivanenko aim to amplify the voices of those affected by the war and raise awareness of the profound challenges faced by children in Ukraine. The film serves as a powerful tool to inspire action and support the protection and well-being of children.