IDFA ’13: BBC to examine scandal-struck Bolshoi Ballet

UK pubcaster the BBC has commissioned a documentary that promises to go behind the scenes for the first time at Moscow's prestigious but scandal-struck Bolshoi Theatre.
November 29, 2013

UK pubcaster the BBC has commissioned a documentary that promises to go behind the scenes for the first time at Moscow’s prestigious but scandal-struck Bolshoi Theatre.

The 100-minute doc Bolshoi Babylon (working title, pictured above) is being directed by Nick Read and produced by Mark Franchetti, and was pitched to international commissioners at a round-table session at the IDFA Forum in Amsterdam on Wednesday (November 27).

The filmmakers have been granted inside access to the theatre, which is home to both the Bolshoi Ballet and the Bolshoi Opera – among the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world.

The organization has become embroiled in controversy this year. Theatre director Anatoly Iskanov was replaced in July, six months after the organization’s artistic director was seriously injured in an acid attack.

Following the attack, the theatre became involved in a high-profile row with principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who subsequently departed.

At the IDFA Forum, the filmmakers’ pitch earned one of the most rapturous receptions of any project appearing over the event’s three days, with widespread and enthusiastic interest from a range of international broadcasters.

It looks likely to meet its €510,000 (US$693,800) budget, €94,700 of which is being covered by the BBC’s documentary strand ‘Storyville.’ The filmmakers are aiming to have the film ready for release in the second half of 2014.

Franchetti and Read most recently collaborated for the feature doc The Condemned, which is playing at IDFA in the ‘Best of the Fests’ section. That doc, also set in Russia, sees Russian prisoners talking candidly about their crimes as they serve time in a remote federal penal colony.

  • Stay tuned for realscreen‘s complete guide to the IDFA Forum’s central pitches, publishing on next week.


About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.