FSC-Harvard Fellow 2006-07
Originally from Lvov, Ukraine, Vera Babayeva received her Masters from Harvard Divinity School with a focus in Religion and Culture. Her interests include the theoretical discourse between modernity and post-modernism, notions of the sacred in literature and contemporary culture, and formulations of identity, exile, and nostalgia in storytelling. At the Film Study Center, Vera is working on her first documentary project, Rue de Russie, a rhizomatic historiography of two sacred spaces in Biarritz, France, overlooking the ocean, built on the same street but a few years apart. One, is a pre-revolutionary blue-domed Russian-Byzantine church built as a summer sanctuary by the Orthodox white Russian community and still housing a vibrant community of white émigré descendants; and the other, a turn-of-the-century synagogue built similarly by white Russian Jews, the famous Poliakoff family, and later inhabited by Morrano Jews; now but a closed building, recently renovated. The film will explore the histories of the two communities housed by these nearby buildings in the form of two visual vignettes. What fate met the members of these parishes as the century darkened and grew old, and how will the story of these holy places continue to unfold as a new century dawns? The goal of this project is to tell the stories of these two living and void sacred spaces and of their past and present communities.