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Personal portrait of Katja Tolstoj, Theologian Laureate 2023

1 November 2023
At the end of October, Katja Tolstoj retired as Theologian Laureate. In this documentary, film makers Ruut van der Beele and Jonah Falke show how Katja's personal and professional lives have coincided since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

At home in Kampen, she and her husband take care of a family of twenty Ukrainians, eight of whom live in her house. At VU University, she tries to help the (refugee) Russian intelligentsia.

The films shows the daily life of the Theologian Laureate. Her specialization is religion and theology in post-traumatic societies. She knows better than anyone that dehumanization is always lurking in war. 

Other side

For the first time, the portrait also shows a different side of Tolstoy: as a mother and grandmother, at home with her husband, her faithful dog, and in between acts as a caregiver for family members at home and abroad. Tolstoy appears to be blessed with a lot of humour and irony. Life may be bad enough as it is, and it's important not to forget to laugh.

She also talks about why she once left Russia and how she relates to the war as a theologian. What could be the way out of this war? It is only with the end of the conflict that Tolstoj's real work will begin. The question that defines her academic life: how do you continue to live after a collective trauma, the thousands of deaths, displaced civilians? What drives her to dedicate her life to the service of religion and theology in post-traumatic societies?

Find out in the documentary.