Ukrainian cinema 🇺🇦

Ukrainian cinema, mysterious, ominous, and experimental, is a box of jewels that many film enthusiasts have never even heard of. If you haven’t seen any Ukrainian films, I assure you that you are missing out out on so much. From early experimental socialist cinema to contemporary fantasy and drama, Ukrainian cinema has it all. And here is my personal Top-5.

  1. Тіні Забутих Предків (eng. Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors) / Parajanov / 1965

Filled with mystical and even, at times, uncanny scenes inspired by Ukrainian Carpathian Folklore, Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors is a visually fascinating story of two young people, often referred to as the Carpathian Romeo and Juliette. Here powers of nature, magic, and rituals are woven into the fabric of everyday life. Created in the 60-s, this experimental film is a true masterpiece that beautifully narrates an ordinary tale through innovative approaches to camera work, composition, and sound design.

  1. A Man with a Movie Camera / Dziga Vetrov / 1929 

One of the first Ukrainian films, A Man with a Movie Camera is an early creative experiment playing with montage, editing, and non-narrative modes of representation in cinema. Laying foundations to many of the approaches collectively accepted as tropes and staples today, this film pioneers creative filmmaking. It takes the viewer through urban cityscapes composed of collages, animations, slow-mo, and other cinematographic experiments. Film- scrapbook, A Man with a Movie Camera is a textbook for any aspiring filmmaker.

  1. Stranger / Tomashpolskiy / 2019 

An acclaimed prize-winner Stranger is a visually mesmerizing sci-fi drama. A utopian diegetic reality astonishes with its attention to detail and overall aesthetics. If you are a fan of Shape of Water, or The Grand Budapest Hotel, I am certain, you will be indulging in the visual richness of this film. Not to mention an intriguing plot combining mystery, detective, and fantasy. A kaleidoscope of color and shapes, Stranger will make you sink into the world of colors and textures.

  1. Viy / Yershov & Kropachyov / 1967

If you are a fan of horror, this story, I promise, will keep you glued to the screen of your TV or laptop. A dead bride flying around in a corpse, monsters crawling out in a church, and Viy himself, a mysterious deity from the nether world – this film paints a vivid image of traditional Ukrainian beliefs and superstitions. Based on a literary work by Mykola Hohol’, the film opens a portal into the writer’s dark imagination, nightmares, and fever dreams. No wonder that even after his death, Hohol’s ominous figure generates a plethora of blood-chilling rumors, like, for instance, that he had been buried alive. 

5. Земля (eng. Land) / Dovzhenko / 1930

This film is an acclaimed masterpiece often making lists like the 10 most influential films of All Times. Dovzhenko’s work depicts collectivization in the Ukrainian village, a process of expropriating land from wealthy peasants and joining it into self-sustaining agricultural clusters as prescribed by socialist economic system. Tackling the intergenerational conflict, Dovzhenko manages to portray how ideologies divided not only countries but villages and even families. A beautiful but tragic piece, Zemlya will captivate you with its drama and beautiful silent cinematography.  

And finally, as a little sneak peek I suggest you watch my little fan video with some infographics and exerts from Ukrainian films (you will need to download it because the web distorts clips with square aspect ratio):

Watch Ukrainian!

Another week – another Hirschfield screening

This week, the Hirschfield International Film Series presents A SON, the debut feature film by a Tunisian director Mehdi Barsaoui.

In this drama, 11 year old Aziz needs a liver transplant after being seriously injured during a terrorist ambush while on holiday in 2011. At the hospital a long-buried family secret will be revealed in the backdrop of the political instability and tension in Tunisia and Libya. 

You can watch the trailer here:

In-person screenings will be held at 3pm and 8pm on Saturday in Axinn 232.

For online screenings, register using this form before Friday, November 5th at 5pm. You’ll receive a confirmation email with additional details for viewing.
Screening Window: Saturday, November 6th – Monday, November 8th.

Have an amazing week!

Petite Maman Screening this weekend!

Want to watch something new this weekend?

The Hirschfield International Film Series presents PETITE MAMAN, a French drama with English subtitles directed by Céline Sciamma, who was also the director of the very popular PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE that was part of our Hirschfield Series in Fall 2019.

Petite Maman tells the story of Nelly, an 8-year-old girl who has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day, when her mother leaves, she meets a girl her age as she’s building a treehouse in the woods. 

You can watch the trailer here:

In-person screenings will be held at 3pm and 8pm on Saturday in Axinn 232.

For online screenings, register using this form before Friday, October 29th at 5pm. You’ll receive a confirmation email with additional details for viewing. Screening Window: Saturday, October 30th – Monday, November 1st.


Screening Tuesday (10/6) – Approaching the Elephant

Approaching Elephant Poster

Come see Approaching the Elephant on Tuesday Oct. 6, from 4:30 – 6:30 in AXINN 232.

In addition to the film, we will welcome director Amanda Rose Wilder, as well as subject of the documentary and alternative educator Alex Khost, to campus for a Q&A after the film.  This is a great opportunity for future filmmakers, educators and thinkers about each of these things to pick the brains of two bold, creative and inspiring individuals. I’m proud as well to bring a woman filmmaker and creator of what is widely regarded as one of the year’s best documentaries to speak about her work and career. 


Approaching the Elephant chronicles year one for Lucy, Jiovanni and Alex at the Teddy McArdle Free School, where all classes are voluntary and rules are determined by vote – adults and children have an equal say. Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alex Khost and an indelible cast of outspoken young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head.

The film is fascinating for both its subject and its style. You can view the trailer here

About Amanda Rose Wilder: 

(Director, Cinematographer, Producer) Wilder spent years writing poems, then in the hills of Vermont fell into filmmaking, which led to a B.A. thesis “The Poetic Documentary and the Documentary Poem,” for which she created poetic documentaries and studied the works of poets Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Gary Snyder and Jorie Graham as they relate to the documentary impulse found in poetry. APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT is her first feature. Wilder has shot as second camera alongside Albert Maysles for Maysles Films, Inc. features and commissioned works. She has written articles on filmmaking and transmedia for Filmmaker Magazine, Nonfics, IFP and The Talkhouse. She lives in New York.

About Alex Khost: 

Alexander Khost is a father, educator, painter, and web developer. He has a long-time interest in self-directed learning environments and democratic free schools. Alexander founded the Teddy McArdle Free School and Alamander Summer Camp; earned his MFA with a concentration in self-directed learning environments from Parsons School of Design, The New School University; his BA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University; and is a certified (but recovering) New York public school teacher.


The Hirschfield International Film Series begins this Saturday. It’s free. It’s in Dana Auditorium. It’s a real 35mm print on a screen that is larger than your computer with sound that’s better than your headphones. It’s a great supplement to your education and a social opportunity for you and your film peers. This Saturday is Restrepo at 3pm and 8pm. Enjoy!