DIRECTOR'S TALK-BACK | Finding Babel, with David Novack

Recorded Live Via Zoom on February 27, 2022


Isaac Babel's writings are subversive masterpieces, challenging the ideology of the early Soviet Union, and resulting in his arrest and execution in 1940. On the 75th anniversary of Isaac Babel's execution, Finding Babel follows Andrei Malaev-Babel, his grandson, on a journey to come closer to some sense of truth. Hoping to better understand Babel's powerful artistic method and elusive persona, Andrei journeys through Ukraine, France and Russia; locations deeply tied to the story of his grandfather. He confronts lingering traces of a turbulent history that echo in Babel’s writing and in the conflicts and climate of today’s Ukraine and Russia.

With each stop, Andrei gets closer to the complex stories that Babel wrote with depth and hidden meaning. Ultimately, through powerful interviews and a painful examination of Babel’s NKVD file, Andrei engages with his grandfather’s arrest, torture and execution. Babel’s life story and his fiction are woven into Andrei’s search with ethereal animation that puts viewers, like Babel’s readers, somewhere between reality and fantasy.


David Novack is the director, and a writer/producer of Finding Babel (Special Jury Prize, Moscow Jewish Film Festival). Prior to his work with Finding Babel, Mr. Novack wrote, produced and directed the film "Burning the Future: Coal in America," which opened in theaters, aired on international television, and won awards at numerous festivals in the US and Europe including the prestigious IDA Pare Lorentz award for social documentary filmmaking.

Watch the film here

Presented as part of the Yiddish Book Center’s 2022 Great Jewish Books Club.


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