Cinematryoshka: tragedy of the repressed writer Isaac Babel turns into a film

Andrei Malaev-Babel, stage director and acting instructor, who lives in the U.S., is putting the finishing touches to the film "Finding Babel" about his famous grandfather, the writer Isaac Babel.

Andrei Malaev-Babel visited RBTH to talk about the film "Finding Babel", where he is one of the main heroes (and the screenwriter). The director of the film is David Novak, he is in charge of cinematography and the concept.

"The film Finding Babel is now being edited. That doesn't mean that the shooting is completed, we're still thinking about a couple of episodes. But the majority of the film is already been shot. The difficulty is that film is produced on 2 languages: in Russian and in English, which means that for the American crew everything what had been said Russian has to be translated, this is taking a lot of time. The director David Novak is thinking about including animation into the movie and it's going to be produced in Russia, the composer will have to do his work..." - says Malaev-Babel. They are hoping that the film will appear on tha fall of 2014. Although the'd like to release film in USA and Russia simultaneously, probably English version will be ready first.

Isaac Babel (1894-1940) joined the Bolsheviks in 1917 and during the Civil War he served as a political commissar in the Red Army. A collection of his stories based on his war experiences, Red Cavalry was published in 1926. The following year he published Odessa Tales, a collection of stories about Jewish life in Russia. Babel comes from a group of South-Russian writers - Ilya Ilf, Evgeniy Petrov, Yury Olesha, Valentin Kataev and others.

Antonina Pirozhkova, Isaac Babel and their daughter Lidia

Isaac Babel fell victim to Stalin's Great Purge. Babel was arrested by the NKVD on May 15, 1939. After "confessing", under torture, to being a Trotskyist terrorist and foreign spy, Babel was shot on January 27, 1940.

Inspired by the tragic fate of his grandfather, he is no less focused on his grandmother Antonina Pirozhkova, and a large fragment of an interview with her, made by the film director in the early 2000s, is in the video. Besides being “the last great literary widow”, she was a prominent Soviet engineer and constructor of the Moscow underground. She worked for Metrostroi company and helped design some of the most famous "underground palaces" in the Soviet capital, including the stations Mayakovskaya, Paveletskaya, Kievskaya, Arbatskaya and Ploshchad Revolyutsii.

She lived with Babel for just 7 years, and then spent every day of the next 15 waiting for him to return from the GULAG, not knowing that he had been shot long before. After her husband's death, she lived for another 70 years to the age of 101, before finally passing away in 2010 in Florida, USA. She has done much to rehabilitate the name of Isaac Babel and to get his texts published.

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