The Beilis Case
Kiev, 1911. A 12-year-old Russian boy Andrei Yushchinskiy is murdered. Despite the police suspecting a known gang of thieves to be the perpetrators of the crime, the case, under pressure from the right-wing political circles, takes a grotesque turn: the prevailing line of enquiry becomes that of a ritual murder, allegedly committed by fanatical Jews. And a lowly clerk named Menahem Beilis is charged with murder on the basis of circumstantial evidence, and the trial is held in 1913.
The main character of our story is Vera Cheberyak. She is not an essentially bad person, but circumstances make her become a dealer of stolen goods. She wants to have a different life, but how can you overcome your destiny? Then a new figure, Vaska the Switchman, enters the scene, she’s attracted to him – both as a man and as a symbol of hope for a better life. Even though she suspects him of being a police agent, Vera lets him inside her gang. But at the decisive moment, she chooses getting stuck in the groove and finds herself trapped, as one crime leads to another. The character of the police investigator Vasily Dmitrievich, whom we first meet as a criminal known as Vaska the Switchman, is partially based on the story of a real police detective Krasovsky, the investigator in the Yushchinsky case. Their love/hate relationship lies at the core of the film.
Our film does not purport to provide an historically accurate account of the Beilis case. Rather, it’s the authors’ own version of it, a modernist cinematic novel if you like, in which real people and events are mixed with plot assumptions, fictional characters, and even some elements of the grotesque.
The film tells the story of how one brutal murder transforms the social and political landscape of the Russian Empire. But, at the same time, it’s about so many other things: choosing one’s fate, the role art and culture play in our lives, the price and meaning of sacrifice, the conflict between the old and the new.
This method of constructing the film allows us to feel deeply for the characters and understand their state of mind and motives, as well as life in Russia in general at the time. It also, of course, helps to highlight certain parallels with present-day events, thus making the film relevant today. We believe that the artistic approach we have chosen allows us to make a film that’s original, engrossing and multi-layered.
Andrei Proshkin (born September 13, 1969, Moscow) - Russian film director, screenwriter. He graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University in 1994, and in 1999 - the Higher Courses for Scriptwriters and Directors workshop of Marlen Khutsiev. One of the best of Proshkin’s pictures is «The Horde». It is a 2012 historical film directed by Andrei Proshkin and written by Yuri Arabov. The film is a highly fictionalised narrative of how Saint Alexius healed Taidula Khatun, the mother of the Golden Horde Khan Jani Beg, from blindness. The film was awarded at 34th MIFF for the Best Director’s work and the Best Actress. It was released as The Golden Empire in the UK. Member of the Film Academy of the Asia-Pacific Region (Asia Pacific Screen Awards).
Born in Moscow in 1953. Graduated from the Moscow Institute of Radio Engineering, Electronic, and Automation. Producer of Russia's most successful musical theatre productions: Metro, Notre Dame de Paris, and Romeo and Juliette. The producer’s debut in film was «Garpastum» by Alexey German Jn. 2005.
Born in Moscow in 1974. Studied international law in Moscow State Institute of International Relations, business administration at Harvard University, and management at Boston University. Chairman of the Board of Directors of the film studio "Georgia Film" from 2009 to 2011.
Marina Naumova. Born in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia (USSR) in 1984. Finished Far Eastern State University, Faculty of Psychology (2006). Studied at London Film Academy and at Moscow Film School. Participant of Les Arcs Industry Program, Co-production Village 2018.
Garpastum Pictures is a Moscow-based film company established in 2005 by producer Alexander Vaynshteyn. In 2020, he united forces with producer Archil Gelovani and launched Garpastum as an idea-driven film company, focused on international projects from the Russian cultural context.