A Canadian director visits her grandmother in Russia after 25 years of separation. The reunion reveals the influence of important historical events on their past and the magnitude of their relationship. From the Second World War to the fall of the Soviet Union, their journey allows us to uncover the layers of their personal stories and family traumas, not unlike a Russian doll. Armed with humor and resilience they create this film as an intimate space for reconciliation.
A word from Tënk
After being separated from her for more than two decades, director Kristina Wagenbauer returns to her hometown in Russia to meet her grandmother. As their conversations delve deep into the past, their family history intertwines with that of their country. The grandmother recounts her childhood experiences during World War II and her life at the end of the Soviet Union, to the difficulties experienced when her own daughter and granddaughter emigrated abroad.
In examining the relationship between the director and her grandmother, editor Xi Feng highlights remnants of the past from a present-day perspective. Feng employs images and shots that focus on family photos collected by the grandmother, showing the similarities and closeness between Kristina and her grandmother. The moments captured, such as the choir scenes or the grandmother's visit to a local school, demonstrate the shadow that the political past imposes on life in Russia. Babushka offers an intimate look at the complexities of a country and its relationship with the protagonists' own family, told through a touching conversation between the director and her dynamic and hopeful grandmother.