WATCH NOW: Uprooted, a powerful short film featuring Ukrainian Refugees

Released by the UN REFUGEE AGENCY, “Uprooted” was made with the support of over 60 Ukrainians who fled their country

Uprooted, by Andzej Gavriss
“Uprooted,” a short film about the trauma of war featuring Ukrainian refugees

A film featuring Ukrainian refugees, made in support of all refugees” – reads the opening card of “UPROOTED”. A short film released by the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) to send a message of support and unity to all refugees around the world.

Within its running time of 2 minutes and 24 seconds, “Uprooted” delivers exactly that sense of chaos and horror that the sudden break of the war can bring.

The film focuses on the PTSD that refugees experience after they have fled the war. But it culminates in a poetic symbol of unity and support. Director Andzej Gavriss works on loud urban noises and how they can trigger terrifying memories of war.

“Uprooted” opens in nighttime Berlin. A door slamming in the wind; an ambulance driving down the street with its sirens blaring; fireworks filling the sky with flashes and explosions. The action closes with a dramatic scene in an empty Berlin square. The last image shows refugees forming the shape of a tree firmly rooted to the earth by the embrace of dozens of people.


The short film was entirely produced in Berlin. Stink Films’ Gavriss wrote the concept with Ukrainian Choreographer, Konstantin Koval and Don’t Panic London’s Creative Partner, Rick Dodds. “Uprooted”, released ahead of the next World Refugee day on June 20, will also be shown in select cinema theatres throughout the UK.

A film made with the support of over 60 Ukrainian refugees

The film features cast and crew of 60 refugees from Ukraine now living in Germany. Among them: writers, choreographers, designers, casting producers, styling assistants, set dressing, make up and music. “Uprooted” is an expression of solidarity with refugees around the world for what they have had to endure. To survive the memories of war, refugees need the support and embrace of us all,” the closing title reads.

“Despite all the pain, we pray for a bright future” – Gavriss wrote on Vimeo. The film’s ending is all about hope and unity. The refugee crisis is global and the only way to help people is to unite and stay together in dark and bright moments. I want to say thank you to everyone who participated and helped to make our film possible. Never in my life have I seen such a unity from people across the globe”.

“The Ukrainian refugee cast and crew at the heart of this film are calling for solidarity, compassion and support for all those forced to flee around the world” – said UNHCR spokesperson, Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams. “No-one can unsee the horror of war, whoever they are or wherever they live. UNHCR is working to provide support like psychosocial counselling and working with host communities to welcome refugees because it is essential for the long-term recovery of all those who have fled war. As this film so powerfully shows – all those displaced by conflict or persecution, from Ukraine and across the world – need our continued embrace and unwavering support to survive the memories of war.”

Real stories behind the characters

All of the actors appearing in the film are refugees from Ukraine. Olya, who appears in the first few seconds, was at home drinking tea with her mother in Ukraine when she saw a missile strike the house opposite. “My mum told me I had to leave Ukraine straight away. Now, whenever I hear loud noises, I experience fear. I just picture that bomb. That’s why I played this role in the film. Because it’s actually what happens to me every day in my life,” Olya said. “We made this film to support refugees all over the world experiencing the same trauma.

Adding to the authenticity and the actors’ connection to the film, each wore an item of clothing they were wearing when they fled their country.

“This meant that they wouldn’t need to act, but just feel that moment that really happened to them,” explained Margarita, a clothes stylist and Ukrainian refugee in the film.

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