By the Rivers of Babylon

Genre: War Drama
Duration: 130 mins
Format: 35mm
Director: Vladimir Khotinenko
span class="title">Cast: Sergei Makovetsky, Nina Usatova, Liza Arzamasova, Kirill Pletnev, Anatolii Lobotskiy
Facts: Film commissioned by Patriarch Alexei II, Russian Orthodox Church

During WWII, a Russian Orthodox priest ministers under German occupation in the Pskov region – an area that has changed political influence multiple times over a single generation. Under the occupation, Father Alexander is able to rehabilitate church life. But he is also able to aid the weak and help the prisoners of war. He is a patriot, a man with a deep conscious who is a hostage of competing propaganda machines. In Sergei Makovetsky's remarkably nuanced performance, he is overcome with doubt about who to serve and how. While he tolerates the German occupational regime he suffers humiliation and doubt caught between faith and allegiance. His mission of mercy turns into a tragic trial, making the priest a hostage of the lurid history of the 20th century. When the territories are recaptured by the Soviets, the missionaries are deported. Director Vladimir Khotienko has become renowned for his large scale nationalistic epics that frequently re-imagine history. This is a film that has inspired considerable debate.