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Finding Babel

Follows the grandson of famed Russian author Isaac Babel as he searches to better understand the enigmatic man executed by Stalin.

A Film by David Novack

88 minutes with Special Features

Grades 10-Adult

Scene Selection • Closed Captioned
Item #:FBB-1108

Select DVD License (limited PPR included)

DVD
K-12 Schools, Public Libraries, Community Groups - $99
Colleges, Businesses, Other Institutions - $295
Colleges (DVD with Digital Site License) - $395
Featuring the voice of Liev Schreiber

Finding Babel follows the grandson of famed Russian-Jewish author Isaac Babel as he searches for answers to better understand the enigmatic man he never met. Babel’s writings, considered masterpieces of Russian literature, challenged the reality of life under rising Soviet totalitarianism, leading to his execution as part of Stalin's purges in 1940.

Andrei Malaev­-Babel journeys through locations deeply tied to the life and writings of his grandfather, where he confronts lingering traces of a turbulent history that echo in Babel’s stories and in the climate and conflicts of today’s Ukraine and Russia. With each stop, Andrei gets closer to the truth about his grandfather and the complex stories that he wrote with depth and hidden meaning.

Mentored by Maxim Gorky, Babel was thrust upon the international stage with Red Cavalry, a bold war narrative, followed by Odessa Stories. His many short stories and stage plays examined Soviet society with a critical eye. Woven into the film are excerpts from Babel’s writings read by actor Liev Schreiber, coupled with unique, ethereal animations that serve to illustrate Babel’s works.

Ultimately, through powerful interviews, including Babel’s widow, and a painful examination of his formerly secret case file, Andrei learns more of the details of his grandfather’s arrest, torture and execution. As the first American film crew allowed inside KGB archives, Andrei and the filmmakers gained unprecedented access to Babel’s file. Chillingly, Andrei found his grandfather’s last act of writing -- not a hoped for lost manuscript or personal letter -- but rather a shaky signature officially acknowledging his death sentence.

The search for Babel shows that although the author was executed, his works still resonate powerfully with lessons for today.

FEATURED IN THE FILM:

-Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Nobel-nominated Russian poet
-Antonina Pirozhkova, Babel's wife and Andrei's grandmother
-Marina Vlady, renowned Russian-French actor
-Vitaly Shentalinsky, author of ARRESTED VOICES: Resurrecting the Disappeared Writers of the Soviet Regime


SPECIAL FEATURES ON THE DVD

• Story of My Dovecot - Odessa Pogrom (6:32)
• Deleted Scenes (4:14)
Finding Babel