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Finding Babel (2015)

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The subversive masterpieces of Russian-Ukrainian writer Isaac Babel challenged the reality of life under rising totalitarianism, and led to his arrest and execution in 1940. In Finding ... See full summary »


David Novack
1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Liev Schreiber ... Isaac Babel (voice)
Andrei Malaev-Babel Andrei Malaev-Babel ... Himself
Antonina Pirojkova Antonina Pirojkova ... Herself
Marina Vlady ... Herself
Evgeniy Evtushenko ... Himself
Leonid Zorin Leonid Zorin ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jean Alibert Jean Alibert ... Himself
Alyona Andronati Alyona Andronati ... Herself
Dasha Appolonova Dasha Appolonova ... Herself
Carol Avins Carol Avins ... Herself
Guillaume Bachelé Guillaume Bachelé ... Himself
Kevin Barber Kevin Barber ... Himself
Christian Benedetti Christian Benedetti ... Himself
Sima Berezanskaya Sima Berezanskaya ... Herself
Robert Bradford Robert Bradford ... Himself


The subversive masterpieces of Russian-Ukrainian writer Isaac Babel challenged the reality of life under rising totalitarianism, and led to his arrest and execution in 1940. In Finding Babel, Andrei Malaev-Babel confronts complex traces of a turbulent history that echo in his grandfather's writing and in the conflicts of today's Ukraine and Russia. Babel's fiction is woven into Andrei's search with ethereal animation that puts the viewer, like Babel's readers, between fantasy and reality.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ISAAC BABEL wrote the truth. But the truth cost him everything.



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Release Date:

4 June 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

В поисках Бабеля See more »

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Did You Know?


Ah, Odessa Moya
Written by Leonid Utyosov
Performed by Leonid Utyosov
Courtesy of Firma Melodiya
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User Reviews

The Lost Pages
27 October 2016 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Tracing one's roots, or family tree, has become much easier in the internet age, and the process has made for a few interesting documentaries. Andrei Malaev-Babel is an acting teacher at Florida State University, but more importantly, he's the grandson of famed Jewish-Soviet writer Isaac Babel. Director David Novack tracks the grandson's journey in re-tracing the steps of the elder Babel's writings and subsequent arrest/imprisonment/execution.

Isaac Babel is one of the best known post-Russian Revolution writers thanks to his "Odessa Tales" and "Red Cavalry". He was often critical of the post-revolution society and leadership, and it was his play "Maria" that was the final straw that resulted in his arrest, torture and, finally, execution in 1940. His grandson wants to know the full story … especially what became of the volumes of unpublished work that was seized and "lost" during Stalin's Great Purge.

Liev Schreiber narrates and reads excerpts of Babel's work throughout the film. It's these passages that Andrei and Novack use to make the subtle comparison of then and now … much of today's Russia is not so different from the oppressive Soviet Union of the 20's and 30's. Andrei meets with those who have researched his grandfather, as well as those who have been influenced by his work. There are exceptional clips of a 2003 discussion with Andrei's grandmother Antonina Pirozhkova who provided much insight before her passing at age 101. This is a woman who was brilliant and tough in her own right.

The journey takes us through Ukraine, Paris and Odessa (where a statue is being constructed in his honor). Andrei looks through the criminal file, though once again, the file with writings is conspicuously missing. He also visits the mass grave where his grandfather is supposedly buried, and we learn that Isaac's charge of treason was later reversed … unfortunately many years after his execution. Andrei's journey through Isaac's 1920 diary blends well with the various stops, but we can't help but think that as viewers, we are witnessing personal and emotional times that we should not necessarily be seeing … absolutely fascinating, but so very private.

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