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Shtetlers – Virtual Q&A Discussion with Director Katya Ustinova

January 27, 2021 @ 8:00 pm


Virtual Q&A Discussion with Director Katya Ustinova (FREE with rsvp)


Katya Ustinova is a Russian born documentary filmmaker living in New York. She has worked as a TV producer, script writer and reporter for almost ten years prior to switching over to documentary filmmaking. She got her MFA degree in Social Documentary from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2012 along with receiving a Paula Rhodes Award for exceptional achievement in Documentary filmmaking for her thesis film. Over the past several years she has been working on three feature length films covering very different themes, stories  and characters. As the other two films are still in progress, Shtetlers is her first completed feature length documentary. In December 2020 Shtetlers won The Laurel branch National TV & Documentary Film Award for best debut in Moscow, Russia.


Shtetlers tells the secret story of small Jewish towns in the former Soviet Union. These towns, or shtetls as they were called, were once home to the largest Jewish population in the world. Only a few survived the Holocaust, and those that did were all located in the territory of the modern Ukraine and Moldova. In those small and remote towns of the Soviet interior, hidden from the world outside of the Iron Curtain, the traditional Jewish life continued for decades after it disappeared everywhere else. The tight-knit communities supported themselves by providing goods and services to their non-Jewish neighbors. The ancient religion, Yiddish language and folklore, ritualized cooking and elaborate craftsmanship were practiced, treasured and passed through the generations until very recently.

The film follows nine very different people, now scattered around the world, who once belonged to the Jewish and non-Jewish shtetl communities. Among them an Yiddish singer returning to the ruins of his family’s house, and a Rabbi enjoying a near-cult following from the non-Jewish townsfolk. An ardent Ukrainian convert to Judaism, whose mother risked their lives by hiding the Jews from the Germans, and a Holocaust survivor with a horrendous escape story. A loving Ukrainian couple that adopted many customs of their Jewish neighbors, and other characters who left for a faraway land and then realized how much shtetls meant to them. Their memories are a farewell to the vanished world of shtetl, a melting pot of cultures that many nations called their home once.


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  • PCs running Windows 7+
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    Internet Explorer is not supported.
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    Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Opera

Phone / Tablet

  • iOS devices (iPhone, iPad)
    Use Safari on iOS 11.2 or later
    Screen mirroring is not supported, ensure it is turned off in your device settings
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    Use Chrome on Android 6.0 or later


What are the system requirements?
You can watch content on PCs running Windows 7+, and Intel-based Macs running OSX 10.12+. You can also watch films on Android tablets and phones using Chrome, and on iPhones and iPads using Safari.

What are the requirements for Windows computers?
Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10
Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera. We recommend using the latest version of your browser. Internet Explorer is not supported.

What are the requirements for Mac computers?
Mac OSX 10.12 or later
Supported browsers: Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera. We recommend using the latest version of your browser.

Can I watch content on my iPhone/iPad?
Yes, you can watch content using Safari on iOS 11.2 or later. Please note that you must have “Screen Mirroring” turned off for content to play, and you cannot use a lightning to HDMI adapter plugged into the device.

Can I watch content on my Android Device?
Yes, you can watch content using Chrome on Android 6.0 or later.
Can I Chromecast content?
Yes from a Chrome web browser on PC and Mac computers as well as Android devices by selecting the cast button in the bottom right-hand side of the player.

Can I AirPlay to my AppleTV?
You can AirPlay from most browsers if you have Apple TV by selecting the AirPlay button on the bottom right-hand side of the player.

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Use the password reset option on the login page to reset your password. You will need access to the email address you use to log in.

Why does video playback stall or not play smoothly?
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Why do I see a black screen if I am watching content with AirPlay on my TV?
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Why do I see a black screen after the pre-roll if I am casting to Chromecast?
Some Chromecast versions cannot support transitions from one video to another. If this happens, turn off casting and re-start it once the film starts playing.

Viewing Guide


January 27, 2021
8:00 pm