Film Series

Since 2005, the Nanovic Institute for European Studies has partnered with the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center to use film as a lens to tell European stories. These short film series have explored themes such as cinematic storytelling through documentaries, animation, the Great War on film, and the spirit of 1968.

Cinema in the Shadow of Empire

This spring, the Nanovic film series turns its focus to Ukraine. Curated by Nanovic Faculty Fellow-elect Tetyana Shlikhar, Ukrainian film scholar and assistant teaching professor of Russian, the series focuses on works created by Ukrainian filmmakers over the past five years, during what one could call an in-between period — after Russia’s 2014 invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea, and before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. While life flourished in parts of Ukraine during this time, the specter of a failed empire still loomed to the east.

In Putin’s more than two decades in power, Russia’s geopolitical strength and imperial ambitions have been at the center of their political line — military incursions into neighboring countries reasserted old territorial claims and aspirations to restore former Soviet spheres of influence. Russian identity remains imperial, despite the disintegration of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago, a time of Ukrainian independence and the rebuilding of its national identity. 

Films featured in the Nanovic spring series will explore this Ukrainian identity. The films will also contribute to a larger conversation of how post-Soviet cinema revives tropes and aesthetic tendencies of earlier periods, such as stark depictions of the Self and Other, spiritual superiority, and monumentalism, as well as updates them for a contemporary context. It is in this context that our new world takes shape — what should we make of it and how do Ukrainian filmmakers attempt to alter its axis?

“For the right to live, to love, to give birth. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter who you are with, the struggle for the right of the new generations to know about the war only from movies.”

Please note that the film series is subject to change, and additional films (for in-person or virtual screenings) may be added. Film screenings are free, but tickets are required. Contact the DeBartolo Performing Arts ticket office at 574-631-2800 or order tickets online.


Film Series Spring 2023, Klondike, 1600x640



Friday, April 28, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. (Rescheduled from March 22)

The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia and Ukraine during the start of the 2014 Donbas war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the center of an international air crash catastrophe of flight MH17.

Film Series Spring 2023-Stop-Zemila, 1600x



Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Masha, Iana and Senia: three friends nearing the end of their high school career, alternately fooling about, exploring their emotions and facing tests of courage. A restrained and genuine glimpse beneath the surface.

Film Series Spring 2023 Reflections, 1600x



Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Ukrainian surgeon Serhiy is captured by the Russian military forces in Eastern Ukraine and exposed to horrifying scenes of humiliation and violence. After his release, he returns to his apartment and tries to find a purpose in life by rebuilding his relationship with his daughter and ex-wife.

Film still from VOLCANO, 1600x640



Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Lukas, an interpreter for a military mission, gets lost near a remote Ukrainian village and stumbles from simple misadventure into the weirdest road trip of his life.

Bad Roads, still, 1600x640

Bad Roads


Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 7:30 pm

Four stories of love, hate, trust, betrayal and violation of personal borders projected against the background of the violation of national borders: four stories that seem distinct and separate, actually united by the flow of the story of a single great common destiny.