Late one night in 2013, the celebrated Bolshoi Theatre artistic director Sergei Filin was attacked outside his Moscow apartment by a masked man who threw acid in his face. That savage incident and its aftermath, as recounted in Nick Read’s shocking documentary Bolshoi Babylon * (premiering December 21, on HBO), makes the film Black Swan* seem like a comedy. We hear from not only Filin, who underwent 30 operations to restore his sight, but also from veteran dancers, fans, and detractors, who dish about Filin’s controversial leadership. Blending interviews, news reports, and courtroom footage from the trial of Pavel Dmitrichenko, the Bolshoi dancer who, it turns out, masterminded the assault, Read raises the curtain on all the infighting, sexual intrigue, and corruption bedeviling one of the world’s greatest ballet companies. “There’s no joy in being a boss,” admits Filin, who in September 2013 returned to the Bolshoi, which recently elected not to renew his contract. “I made the wrong decision.”
Photos: Dirty Dancing
A scene from Bolshoi Babylon: Oksana Yushko in La Bayadère. Courtesy of HBO.
A scene from Bolshoi Babylon: The director Sergei Filin, post-attack, at a press conference, 2013. Courtesy of HBO.
A scene from Bolshoi Babylon: The ballerina Anastasia Meskova, backstage, 2013. Courtesy of Dmitry Beliakov/ Courtesy of HBO.