A few months prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, five young women and men participate in a unique stage production that attempts to relate their war experiences to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For each of them, the stage is a platform to express their grief and trauma through the famous question, “to be or not to be,” a dilemma that applies to their own lives. The protagonists fight against disappointment, powerlessness, and anger, trying to put their lives back in order while processing their painful past: SLAVIK, who went through a hell of war and captivity as a soldier, KATYA, who longs for her mother’s forgiveness for joining the army, RODION, who escaped from Donbas and is now facing growing homophobia, ROMAN, who is still struggling with the traumatic memories of his war experience as a paramedic on the battlefield, and Oxana who struggles on an artistic frontline as an actress. The rehearsals for the play are combined with an intense glimpse into the characters’ lives: a powerful portrait of a generation coping with the trauma of war which, after Russia’s invasion, is now their present and future alike.

  • Genre: Documentary
  • Country: Germany, Poland
  • Running time: 85
  • Year: 2022
  • Color: colour

Director: Elwira Niewiera, Piotr Rosołowski

Script: Piotr Rosołowski, Elwira Niewiera

DOP: Piotr Rosołowski

Music: John Gürtler, Jan Miserre

Editing: Agata Cierniak

Sound: Marcin Lenarczyk, Jarosław Sadowski

Production company: Balapolis, Kundschafter Filmproduktion


About the directors:

Elwira Niewiera

Elwira Niewiera

ELWIRA NIEWIERA is a Polish/German director and screenwriter of the well-known documen-tary films Domino Effect, The Prince and the Dybbuk and The Hamlet Syndrome. Winner of many international awards, among others Grand Prix-Semian de la Critiqe for the Best Film at 75th Locarno Film Festival, Best Documentary on Cinema at the 74th Venice Film Festival, Polish Film Academy Award for Best Documentary, Golden Dove at DOK Leipzig Film Festival, Young Ger-man Cinema Award 2019 and the American Chicken & Egg Award 2021. In her artistic work, she focuses primarily on political, social and cultural transformations in Eastern Europe. Elwira is a member of the European Film Academy.


2007 – Bulgarian Stories

2014 – Domino Effect

2017 – The Prince and the Dybbuk

2022 – The Hamlet Syndrome

Piotr Rosołowski

Piotr Rosołowski

PIOTR ROSOLOWSKI is a Polish director, screenwriter, and cinematographer based in Berlin. He graduated from the Katowice Film School and was awarded an Academy of Media Arts scholarship in Cologne. Piotr co-directed together with Elwira Niewiera already three successful feature documentaries: Domino Effect prized at the Krakow Film Festival and DOK Leipzig, The Prince and the Dybbuk awarded with the Lion for Best Documentary on Cinema at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and The Hamlet Syndrome honored with Grand Prix Semaine de la critique at the 75th Locarno Film Festival. Piotr also works as a director of photography, he shot many awarded feature and short films, among them: On the line dir. Reto Caffi – Academy Award-nominated short fiction, Rabbit a la Berlin dir. Bartek Konopka – Academy Award-nominated short documentary, and The
wall of Shadows dir. Eliza Kubarska – nominated for the German Camera Award and honored with the annual prize of the Polish Society of Cinematographers.


2013 – The Art of Disappearing

2014 – Domino Effect

2017 – The Prince and the Dybbuk

2022 – The Hamlet Syndrome

At festivals:

62nd Krakow Film Festival, Poland, 2022 (Golden Hobby-Horse )

75th Locarno Film Festival 2022, Switzerland , 2022 (Grand Prix, SRG SRR Award, Boccalino d’oro)

Baltic Sea Docs Riga 2022, Latvia, 2022 (screening)

65th International Festival of Documentary and Animated Film DOK Leipzig, Germany, 2022 (competition)

Adelaide International Film Festival, Australia, 2022 (Best documentary film)

41st Cambridge Film Festival, United Kingdom, 2022 (competition)

36th Leeds International Film Festival, United Kingdom, 2022 (screening)

13th DOC NYC New York's Documentary Festival, USA, 2022 (competition)

IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam 2022, The Netherlands, 2022 (screening)

European Film Forum SCANORAMA 2022, Lithuania, 2022 (screening)

19th Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Ukraine, 2022 (screening)

39. Kasseler Dokfest Documentary Film and Video Festival, Germany, 2022 (competition)

8th Human Rights Film Festival Zurich, Switzerland, 2022 (screening)

34th Trieste Film Festival, Italy, 2023 (The Audience Best documentary film, Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa Award)

9th BIDF Budapest International Documentary Festival, Hungary, 2023 (Special Mention)

20th Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, USA, 2023 (competition)

Dublin International Film Festival, Ireland, 2023 (competition)

Screening at Cinema du Grutli, Geneve, Switzerland, 2023 (screening)

CPH:DOX* | Copenhagen Int. Documentary Film Festival 2023, Denmark, 2023 (screening)

9th Censurados Film Festival, Peru, 2023 (competition)

Ukraine Month in Europe 2023, Moldavia, 2023 (screening)

ZagrebDox - International Documentary Film Festival 2023, Croatia, 2023 (competition)

47th Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong, 2023 (Jury Award)

15th Millenium Film Festival 2023, Belgium, 2023 (Special Jury Prize for the Most Original and Innovative Film)

16th One World Romania International Human Rights & Documentary Film Festival 2023, Romania, 2023 (screening)

42nd Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2023, USA, 2023 (competition)

Bolzano Film Festival Bozen 2023, Italy, 2023 (competition)

Screening at VANDENHOVE, Centre for Architecture and Art Ghent University, Belgium, 2023 (screening)

Crossing Europe FIlm Festival 2023, Austria, 2023 (competition)

Moldova Film Festival 2023. Moldavia, 2023 (screening)

International Book and Film Festival Etonnants Voyageurs 2023, France, 2023 (screening)

Moldox Festival 2023, Moldavia, 2023 (screening)

Screening at the Conference of the European Shakespeare Research Association, Hungary, 2023 (screening)

Greenpoint Film Festival 2023, USA, 2023 (competition)

Screening at Goethe-Institut Hong Kong 2023, 2023 (screening)

10th Tripoli Film Festival, Lebanon, 2023 (competition)

Looking East (Understanding Central Europe) Festival Amsterdam 2023, The Netherlands, 2023 (screening)

One World Slovakia - International Documentary Film Festival 2023, Slovakia, 2023 (screening)

Screening at Cine Doré in Madrid 2024, Spain, 2024 (screening)

Screening at the Art Cinema Světozor in Prague, Czech Republic, 2024 (screening)

EPOS - Art Film Festival in Tel Aviv 2024, Isreal, 2024 (screening)

Screening at the Ukrainian Institute in London, United Kingdom, 2024 (screening)