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Isaac Babel was a Soviet journalist, playwright, literary translator, and short-story writer. He began publishing after the Revolution of 1917 and rode with the Red Cavalry Unit during Russia's Civil War. Babel bravely reported from the front line, stating in his writing his belief that "journalistic work is full of adventure." However, he may be best known for his short-story collections "Red Cavalry," published in 1926, and "Odessa Stories" (1927), both about his hometown of Odessa. Accused of harsh criticism of the Communist Party and an alleged affair with a secret police officer's wife, Babel was executed on Joseph Stalin's orders in 1940. In this revealing documentary, we search for a deeper, more intimate understanding of the writer by meeting Babel's wife and grandson as they reflect on his writings and Russia's current political climate. Director David Novack stylistically bridges the informative and artistic, enhanced by archival film, animation, and Babel's actual diary entries and writings, read by actor Liev Schreiber. Finding Babel allows us to move closer to the real story of an elusive, secretive writer who believed in a system that chewed him up for his socially revealing masterpieces.
This lit-doc travelogue gains in power, insight, and urgency as it journeys. Andrei Malaev-Babel sets off to Eastern Europe to trace the life of his grandfather, Isaac Babel, whose Odessa Stories and Red Cavalry constitute one of the slimmest oeuvres of any of the twentieth century's great writers. ...