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Frame from the movie "The Hamlet Syndrome"

Documentary 'The Hamlet Syndrome' at festivals

One of the most talked-about films about the war in Ukraine has been successful at international film events for the past few months, and its festival journey is still underway – in October it will be screened in New York, while in November it will be seen by guests of the IDFA International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

Production and financing

‘The Hamlet Syndrome’, directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosołowski, is a Polish-German documentary, co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.

The film's cinematographer is Piotr Rosołowski, Marcin Lenarczyk and Jarosław Sadowski were responsible for the sound, and Agata Cierniak for the editing. The film was produced by Magdalena Kamińska and Agata Szymańska of Balapolis (previous successful films include 'Baby Bump', 'From a Distance, the View is Beautiful', 'Huba', 'The Alder King', 'We haven't lost our way') in cooperation with Kundschafter Filmproduktion (Germany).

The documentary was co-produced with Canal+ Poland, Sudwestfunk Baden-Baden and Chicken&Egg Pictures and was supported by a number of European institutions: Polish Film Institute, Polish-German Film Fund, FFA Filmforderungsanstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH, Creative Europe – Media, German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, Crossing Borders Robert Bosch Stiftung and Literarisches Colloquium Berlin.

WATCH DOCS / Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights is responsible for its distribution.


‘The Hamlet Syndrome’ is based on Roza Sarkisian's play H-Effect, which was created from a concept by Joanna Wichowska. It tells the story of young Ukrainian women and men, inspired by Shakespearean themes, who start their theatre careers and try to face their war traumas.

Their narratives contradict each other, each of them having different values and beliefs. For all of them, however, war is an everyday reality that they must confront. For them, the stage becomes a platform from which they can scream out their pain and ask (themselves and others) fundamental questions. What attitude to choose? How to help themselves? Where to find good answers to the questions that keep multiplying? And finally – to be? Or not to be?

The authors of 'The Hamlet Syndrome' emphasise that the war in some parts of Ukraine has been going on for eight years and the film was made before the Russian invasion of 24 February 2022, which the whole world is talking about today. 


The Polish-German festival co-production started with a bang – it won as many as four awards at the Krakow Film Festival: The Golden Hobby-Horse for the best Polish film, the Jury's Special Award in the International Documentary Film Competition, the Best Producer Award and the Student Award of the City of Krakow.

At the Locarno International Film Festival, the film won both the Grand Prix for the best film of the Semaine de la Critique section and – during the Film Critics' Week – the Boccalino d'Oro independent critics' award for best documentary.

Two October accolades for 'The Hamlet Syndrome' are brand new: the Grand Prix for Best Feature Length Documentary at the 20th Opole Llamas Film Festival and the award for Best Documentary at the Adelaide Film Festival in Australia.

‘The Hamlet Syndrome’ has also received a nomination for the Silver Eye Producer Award, which will be awarded in Jihlava, Czech Republic, on 29 October. 

More chances

There is a possibility that more awards will go to the filmmakers and creators. In November, the documentary will be screened in New York (DOC NYC, 9-27 November) and Amsterdam (IDFA International Documentary Film Festival, 9-20 November).

/photo: promotional materials/