Bye-bye Babushka | Chicago Reader

Bye-bye Babushka

Images of a woman who seems both aware and unconcerned that she's being filmed as she peels potatoes or washes her body—shots carefully framed to show the effects of old age and hard work—seem slightly stagy, but that only enhances the respectful tone of this 80-minute 1997 documentary. Other women in a small Russian village express a range of opinions in flat or impassioned rhetoric when asked how communism affected them, but her wry responses strongly suggest ideas beyond her few words. Filmmaker Rebecca Feig intersperses these interviews, some of which take place as the women perform chores, with the comments of younger women and schoolgirls, surrounding everything with footage from a funeral, as she examines whether the physically demanding work that has dominated many of her subjects' lives has been dehumanizing—without suggesting that the answer is simple.

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