Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead - screener

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Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead

Year: 2007, 85 mins
Code: NM-Tov

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Garri Urban, survivor of Holocaust and Gulag and author of the autobiographical book of the same title, revisits the sites of his horrors and triumphs, 50 years later.

Culled from video diaries shot over the course of fourteen years by director Stuart Urban and featuring an extended interview conducted with his father Dr. Garri Urban, Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead details the latter's tireless quest to procure evidence that his family was imprisoned by the Soviet Secret Police before discovering what grim fate they ultimately met during Holocaust.

For twenty-five years Dr. Urban has been on a constant mission to find out if anyone in his family survived the Holocaust, and the discovery that he had a brother living in Israel only served to fuel his hunger for more information. Now, as Dr. Urban comes face to face with the former fiancée who was imprisoned for nearly a decade due to being associated with him, the secretive shroud of the KGB finally begins to lift due to the efforts of a noted humanitarian who wasn't willing to let go of the past without putting up a struggle.

Garri Urban was a survivor - not a victim - of both the Holocaust and Gulag. Born in the shtetl (the Jewish rural community) in 1916, he overcame adversity through a mixture of charm, aggression, and chutzpah. His 1980 autobiographical account of his adventures took its title from when he was shot during his attempt to swim across an icy river from Soviet territory to Romania. He told the snipers who stooped to lift his apparently lifeless body; “no, tovarisch (comrade), I’m not dead” before striking their officer.

"This documentary about a scarcely credible life is as compelling as it is touching" - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"It is the theme of survival, rather than defeat, under oppression which makes this documentary inspiring, hopeful and therefore vital as a social lesson. This is a compelling documentary on many levels and is indicative of the future of documentary-making" - Alison Wrigley, Raindance

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