Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Image from film of girl sitting at picnic table with a cat. Links to event page



Film Screening & Discussion. When Spring Came to Bucha
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Please join the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, in partnership with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Razom for Ukraine, the Overseas Press Club of America, and the Harriman Institute for a screening of When Spring Came to Bucha. The screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Mila Teshaieva and Masha Gessen, Russian-American journalist, author, translator, activist.

In March 2022, Russian troops withdraw from a small town in the Kyiv region, and Ukrainian citizens emerge from their homes to clean their streets, rebuild, and face a new day while grieving all that’s been lost. This film poignantly captures how a small community continues with life amid trauma and loss, while war rages on close by.

The festival does not want money to be a barrier to entry. Free tickets are available first-come first-served for any member of the public who needs them by emailing

Use code RESIST23 for $2 off both digital and in-person tickets.


In early 2022, the small Ukrainian town of Bucha near the capital, Kyiv, was occupied by the Russian army for several weeks. After a month of intense fighting, the Russian army withdrew, leaving the town destroyed in its wake. In When Spring Came to Bucha, citizens share their stories as they clean their streets of debris and re-build their shattered homes. Yuri, municipal services manager, struggles to keep people supplied with clean drinking water. Olenka is the only pupil in her classroom after two of her classmates are killed, the rest having left the country. Yet in the midst of suffering, a young couple gets married, and life must go on. This heart-rending yet empowering documentary tells stories of loss, hope, and resistance, as the spring flowers of Bucha begin to bloom.


Mila Teshaieva (she/her) is a Ukrainian artist, photographer, and filmmaker. Her work is focused on the topics of national memories and collective identities on the territories of the former Eastern block. The retrospective of her work “Imagined Communities” was shown at the MIT Museum in Boston in 2018. From the very first days of the full-scale invasion of Russia to Ukraine Mila Teshaieva has been in Kyiv and the Kyiv region, photographing, filming, and writing on what she describes as “a defining moment of European history”.

Marcus Lenz (he/him) is a German director, screenwriter and cinematographer based in Berlin. He graduated from the Deutsche Filmund Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). His feature film Rival (2020) premiered at Busan IFF and won the Best Director award at Tokyo IFF, Best Global Film at Pristina IFF, among many other awards, also being shown worldwide at more than 50 festivals. In 2016 he founded a production company Wildfilms, and directed multiple mid-length documentaries for German television channelsWDR and Arte.”