UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Remembering Jewish Culture in Ukraine

17 June 2019, 6:30 pm–9:00 pm

Boy in Synagogue

Discussion and screening of an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s In the Synagogue by Ivan Orlenko

Event Information

Open to









Bllomsbury Studio
Bloomsbury Theatre
15 Gordon Street

In the Synagogue is a fascinating short film by young Ukrainian director Ivan Orlenko based on an unfinished story by Franz Kafka. One of few works by Kafka to deal with Jewish culture overtly, the story describes a strange vision of a beast as seen by a Jewish boy has while praying in a synagogue, a metaphor which could be interpreted in several ways. One of Ukraine’s brightest young directors, Ivan Orlenko, has adapted Kafka’s fragment into a 30-minute film, shot entirely in Yiddish, and transposed its action to a synagogue in western Ukraine. The screening will be preceded by a talk by Dr Uilleam Blacker of UCL SSEES on the ways in which the rich Jewish cultural heritage of Ukraine is remembered and reimagined in the country today, and the challenges which this process of recovery faces. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the director. 

The event is co-organised by The Ukrainian Institute, London and UCL SSEES, with the assistance of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.

Interview with Ivan Orlenko

Film Facebook page



About the Speakers

Ivan Orlenko

Ivan Orlenko is a film/stage director, script/play writer, production designer and performer, born in 1987 in Vinnytsya. He has worked in theaters of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Hungary in different roles – director, video director, set designer, dramaturge, performer. His film “In our synagogue” is the first Ukrainian fiction film in the Yiddish language. Ivan is currently working on his first feature film.

Dr Uilleam Blacker

Lecturer at UCLSSEES

Uilleam Blacker is Lecturer in Comparative East European Culture at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His research focuses on Ukrainian, Polish and Russian culture and cultural memory. He is co-author of Remembering Katyn (2012) and co-editor of Memory and Theory in Eastern Europe (2013). His translations of contemporary Ukrainian authors have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Words Without Borders and Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction series.