Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Film Screening & Discussion. Toloka
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Important Note

Registration required. This event is open to CUID card holders only. Attendees must be in compliance with Columbia University’s health protocols for returning to campus. Pre-registration, valid CUID card, and valid green pass are required for admittance.


Please join the Ukrainian Film Club at Columbia University and the Harriman Institute for a screening of director Mykhailo Illienko’s 2020 film Toloka. Introduction and discussion led by Yuri I. Shevchuk.

Inspired by Taras Shevchenko’s ballad “Kateryna Has a House on a Hill,” this historical drama is a masterpiece of magical realism by director Mykhailo Illienko, the Gabriel García Márquez of Ukrainian cinema. The tale of three Kozaks’ rivalry for the heart of a young woman has true philosophical depth, and reads as a memorable metaphor for Ukraine’s history, spanning some of the most epic pages of Ukraine’s struggle for its freedom against invaders. The title of the film encapsulates the secret of Ukraine’s indestructibility: “toloka” is when family, friends, and the entire village join forces to erect a house for a new family in just one day. “The age of a Ukrainian house is short and lasts from one war to another,” says Mykhailo Illienko. “Thanks to toloka no Ukrainian house is marginalized. Every house is at the center of the community.” This spirit of national and human solidarity embodied by toloka is what makes Ukraine invincible in the face of its enemies and has restored it every time it was attacked and ruined.

Theatrically released in 2020, Toloka seems prophetic now that the Ukrainian house is once again under a brutal attack of a bloodthirsty enemy seeking to raze it to the ground.

In Ukrainian with English subtitles.

Running time: 110 minutes