Ukrainian (Film) History 101

A journey through the rich history of Ukrainian cinema by means of selected masterpieces from different periods before the Ukrainian independence.

Довженко-Центр / Dovzhenko Centre
100% of the ticket sales goes to the largest Ukrainian film archive – Dovzhenko Centre in Kyiv, that is struggling to keep its doors open during the invasion.

Each of the films represents an important cinematic work that also gives insight into the history of Ukraine and its people, either through the very subject of the film or through reflecting the times in which they were made.

All films have English subtitles and begin with a short introduction by our cinema editor, Stefan Malešević (De Balie). Tickets are available at standard price per screening, or at a discounted price of € 24,08 for all four screenings, in memory of the Ukrainian Declaration of Independence on 24th of August 1991.


1928 | dir. Oleksandr Dovzhenko | 70 min

A Thousand years of Ukrainian history told through the surreal story of the mythical Grandfather who is guarding the treasures of Ukraine against the numerous invaders. With its unique dramaturgy and shooting style, Zvenigora was the first film that put the spotlight on Oleksandr Dovzhenko as he was paving his way to becoming one of the most influential filmmakers from Ukraine.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (+Kyiv Frescoes)

1966 | dir. Sergey Parajanov | 15+100 min

Based on the eponymous novel by the famous Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Parajanov’s first work in his recognizable style delivers the tale of young lovers who find themselves on the opposing sides of a family blood feud. Heralded as the most important film in Ukrainian film history, this film takes the viewer on a psychedelic cinematic ride influenced by the rich folklore of Ukraine.

Before the screening, there is an equally experimental short Kyiv Frescoes, made from leftovers because his next project had to wait.

Asthenic Syndrome

1989 | dir. Kira Muratova | 153 min

The sixth feature film directed by Muratova is widely considered her most important piece. Known for its film-within-a-film narrative, where the first half of turns out to be just what the protagonist was watching in a cinema, Asthenic Syndrome follows the exhausted school teacher who falls asleep at the most inconvenient times. His struggles with the moral decadence around him were seen as a metaphor for the Soviet Union at the end of its existence. Critics call this film the ‘last Soviet and the first Post-Soviet film’.

Oxygen Starvation

1992 | dir. Andrii Donchyk | 100 min

Donchyk wrote this film together with Yurii Andrukhovych, based on their real-life experiences of abuse as recruits in the Soviet army. In one of the first non-state funded films of post-Soviet Ukraine, they explore the story of an intelligent Ukrainian recruit who resists attempts of his superiors to turn him into an obedient, mindless subject of the Soviet state.


1st June Zvenigora
7th June Shadows of Forgotten
Ancestors + Kyiv Frescoes

14th June Asthenic Syndrome
21st June Oxygen Starvation

All screenings begin at 19:30.

Click on a film title for more information and separate tickets.