Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi Ballet is Russia’s proudest symbol and arguably, most famous national export.
But in 2013 the Ballet was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons when its Artistic Director Sergei Filin was the victim of a shocking acid attack, suffering third degree burns and losing sight in one eye as a result. The attackers – who later came forward – alleged they’d been hired by former principal dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko.
With its irresistibly sensational, very Russian narrative, the scandal inspired lurid headlines worldwide as it revealed an organisation rife with political infighting, corruption, betrayals and fomenting conspiracies; a seeming microcosm for a country where artists are culturally conditioned to strive for perfection against ruthless forces from a very young age.
In this fascinating documentary – reminiscent of recent Screening Days hit Red Army in its meaningful focus on a particular facet of Russia’s cultural life – filmmakers Nick Read and Mark Franchetti are granted extraordinary access behind the scenes; watching as Filin recuperates, theatre manager Vladimir Urin takes over and Dmitrichenko goes on trial. Selected for TIFF’s Documentary strand, Bolshoi Babylon is sure to garner substantial press revisiting the aftermath of the scandal on its release.