Finding Babel

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About The Film

FINDING BABEL chronicles a grandson’s search for the legacy of the greatest prose writer of Russian Jewry, whose subversive works led to his untimely and tragic end.

Best known for his short-story collections Odessa Stories and Red Cavalry, the daring masterpieces of Isaac Babel challenged life under the totalitarian ideology of the early Soviet Union. Running afoul of Stalin’s repressive regime, he was arrested in the Great Purge, executed, and then buried in a mass grave in 1940. In an absorbing investigation, grandson Andrei Malaev-Babel embarks on a literary and deeply personal travelogue to understand better the author’s powerful methods and the paradox of his Soviet-Jewish identity. Poignant stops in Ukraine, France and Russia retrace the footsteps and influences of an elusive persona whose unique artistic voice bridges fantasy and gritty realism.

Actor Liev Schreiber provides a mellifluous baritone reading of Babel’s diary entries and tender stories, stylistically illustrated with a blend of archival imagery and impressionistic animation. With intelligence and emotion worthy of his subject, filmmaker David Novack confronts the turbulent history that echoes through Babel’s writings to the dark political climate of today’s Russia. 

Film Details

Running Time 
88 minutes
Southeast Premiere