An experimental Russian debut on the intersection of feature and documentary film. Brothers Mark and Gesha are teenagers living an incomplete family. Their father is harsh and does not know how to express his feelings. Rooted in Slavic folklore, this picture is a tactile coming of age drama that immerses the viewer in the world of a child, full of fears, traumas, and hopes. The only Russian participant of this year's International Film Festival Rotterdam, Babai is part of the Made in Russia special program of the New Holland Island International Debut Film Festival.
Babai is a night spirit in Slavic folklore, most often evoked by parents trying to intimidate their misbehaving children. Artem Aisagaliev, a Russian-born filmmaker who lives and works in California, uses the context of this tale to create a claustrophobic allegory of fear and trauma, one that is inextricably tied to growing up, particularly within the patriarchal family the teenage brothers Mark and Gesha belong to. Documentary film director Sasha Kulak's agile camera creates a sense of the documentary transmission of a child's worldview. Babai, however, is a fictional film, albeit with a free-flowing structure largely built on improvisation.
The screening is in Kazakh and Russian with Russian subtitles.
Dir. Artem Aisagaliev
Russia, USA, 2020. 65 min. 16+