The Babai is a Slavic folkloric figure used by parents as an educational cane. Children who get up at night are kidnapped by this mysterious creature, parents tell them, hoping their little ones will stay in bed. Russian director Artem Aisagaliev adopts the grim undertone of this fairy tale to illustrate the fear and trauma inextricably linked to aging.

His claustrophobic feature film is about the young brothers Mark and Gesha who live with their father. The tense close-ups depict scenes from a childhood characterised by discipline and humiliation. Although the images and situations are extremely realistic, almost documentary in nature, Aisagaliev uses the boys’ lives allegorically: from the initial, pitch-black shots to the lights dying out at the end, this is a story about the cycle of a life marked by trauma.

Filmmaker
Artem Aisagaliev
Premiere
World premiere
Country
Russia, USA
Year
2020
Medium
DCP
Length
65’
Language
Russian, Kazakh
Producer
Artem Aisagaliev
Production Company
Badcut Inc
Sales
Badcut Inc
Writer
Artem Aisagaliev
Cinematography
Sasha Kulak
Editor
Artem Aisagaliev, Mo Faraji
Sound Design
Nikolay Antonov
Cast
Saggidulla Aisagaliev, Gesha Aisagaliev, Mark Aisagaliev, Sergey Aisagaliev, Tamara Barsukova, Dzhumabai Aisagaliev, Anton Martinov