Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Film Discussion. The War Syndrome. I’m Used to Killing


Please join the Ukrainian Film Club at Columbia University and the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for discussion with Olena Solodovnikova, director of the feature documentary The War Syndrome. I’m Used to Killing (2020). Professor Yuri Shevchuk will moderate a discussion and Q&A.

Attendees can watch the film on YouTube prior to the discussion. The event on September 29 will not include a screening of the film.

The War Syndrome tells the stories of former fighters who defended Ukraine in the Ukrainian-Russian war, and subsequently lost everything as hostages of post-traumatic stress disorder. An invisible killer, PTSD alienates veterans from all that is dear to them: their family, their health, and their faith in the future. As they are forced to continuously relive the war even in the midst of otherwise peaceful lives, some who survived fighting in the Donbas die by suicide.

The film’s soundtrack, “The Mannerheim Line,” was composed by the rock group Dogs in Space, led by Ukrainian poet Serhii Zhadan.


About the Director

Olena Solodovnikova is a Ukrainian documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist. She was born and grew up in Khrakiv. For five years she worked there as a reporter covering cultural events and making films about the city’s history and its prominent citizens. Later she moved to Kyiv to work as an investigative journalist with the focus on government corruption, embezzlement of funds, and other forms of abuse of power. Solodovnikova created and was the editor-in-chief of the TV program “Agents of Influence” for the NTN television channel and of the program “People’s Prosecutor’s Office”. In 2021 she became the head of the documentary film department of the TV Channel 1+1 and was instrumental in producing five documentary movie projects. After the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian War and hostilities in the Donbas she worked in such hot spots as the cities of Donetsk, Slov’iansk, Kramatorsk, Debaltseve and Pisky. In 2017 she was appointed head of the Ukrainian department of the Polish TV channel Belsat. She is the recipient of the Cultural Bridges Fellowship from the British Council, the New Diplomacy’s Eastern Partnership Journalism Fellowship and other professional awards.

Solodvnikova’s filmography includes:

  • Donbas. A Life Ahead (2016) a documentary film about the Ukrainian children victims of the Russian aggression both in Russian-occupied Donetsk and in free Ukraine.
  • Child-Bearing the Human Way (2017) a unique social experiment. This documentary film was shot for the duration of nine months of the director’s pregnancy and is a story about the Ukrainian health-care system as a whole in the process of arduous reform.
  • A Homeland Within (2018) a documentary about Syrian refugees who found their new home in Ukraine.
  • The War Syndrome. I’m Used to Killing (2020) a film about Ukrainian war veterans suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder.

Solodovnikova’s current film project Mykola is about teenager Mykola Nyzhnykivsky who lost both of his feet as a result of an explosion near the city of Mariupil and who now cherishes the dream of becoming a para-Olympic swimming champion.


Event Video

Watch the Film