Universal Mentors Association

Film Club: ‘Away’


More than five million Ukrainian children have been displaced since Russia’s invasion last year. Andrei and Alisa, who left Ukraine at age 16 in the spring of 2022 and relocated to Budapest, are two of them. “Away” is a 20-minute Op-Doc video that provides an intimate window into the collision of childhood and war and the innumerable difficulties many of the displaced young people face — including separation from family members, disruptions to their education, mental health challenges and economic instability.

What can we learn about how the war in Ukraine is affecting teenage refugees? 


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: How are teenage refugees coping with the war in Ukraine?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

6. To learn more, read “Someday This War Will Be Over.” Ruslan Fedotow, the filmmaker, writes:

I was finishing my second semester of a master’s program in documentary filmmaking in Budapest when Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of refugees rushed into Hungary, and my classmates and I went to the train stations to offer our help.

Seeing those forced to leave their homes, I wondered what I could do as a documentary filmmaker. Can film express what they are going through? Did I even have the right to try to tell their stories? Even after finishing this film, these questions still haunt me.

The short documentary above is my attempt to capture the poignant story of two young Ukrianians, Andrei and Alisa, as they try to rebuild their lives away from home and without their parents.

Want more student-friendly videos? Visit our Film Club column.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.


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