Live or die, stay or go, to be or not to be?

– shouts a young Ukrainian on a stage in Kyiv.

It is 2018, he was a soldier in eastern Ukraine, Shakespeare's "Hamlet" should help him to talk about what he experienced in the war that has been raging in his fatherland since 2014.

He's pushed to his limits, remembering unopened body bags, gunshots, a gun he should be pointing to his friend's head, otherwise they'd both die.

Roman cries, breaks off the rehearsal, the stage recording stops.

The two directors Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski chose five young people of the Maidan generation for their film "The Hamlet Syndrome". They all had something to do with the war in Ukraine, directly or indirectly.

The idea: They should write a theater screenplay for "Hamlet" with the director Roza Sarkisian.

The film accompanies this development without showing the performance at the end.

Shooting began in 2018, Niewiera and Rosołowski wanted to draw attention to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

They didn't know that their film would be given such a new relevance on February 24, 2022.

Now, in mid-January 2023, at the premiere of their film in the venerable stage hall of the Gorki Theater in Berlin, they criticize that people have gotten used to the war.

With large images, the film conveys a feeling of helplessness, of terror.

Because the film is mostly set on the stage of this small theater in Kyiv, but there are always strong overlays: from the protests at the Euromaidan in 2013 and 2014, from the capture of a protagonist, from Kyiv, from the living environment of the young people, emotional ones conversations with their parents.

Hope for a change in values

Katja Petrowskaja came as a moderator, and she too was moved by the 80-minute film, which was shown in Ukrainian with German subtitles.

Actually, she would rather let the film sink in and cry, but talking about it is important.

She wants to know from the directing team how they made the selection about the five young people.

The idea of ​​making a portrait of a generation was the focus right from the start, Rosołowski said in the subsequent conversation.

But they didn't just want to show war veterans.

The story of Rodion is also shown very impressively: a young homosexual man who never fought at the front but spent the first nineteen years of his life in Donetsk.

Never accepted by his mother, beaten by right-wing extremists, always a victim of the police, who threatened to rape him with a baton, stands on the small stage of the theater.

With him and the soldier Roman, who went to war from western Ukraine, two opposites collide.

For Roman, Rodion is the first homosexual he meets.

Finally, you can see footage of the two at the christening of Roman's daughter - hope for a change in values?

The directors say it took a long time to reconcile such opposites in the theatre.

“We required completed therapy from the protagonists for participation in the stage production.

We were aware that there would be extreme experiences,” explains Niewiera.