Babay / Бабай

Published: January 20, 2017

Babay (Бабай) is a 2014 Ukrainian children’s animated film. It was made by Ukraine’s major animation studio, Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм).

In Slavic folklore, Babay is a sort of evil spirit in the shape of an old man. Parents apparently invoke him to scare their children when they aren’t listening. The film’s working title was “Who’s afraid of uncle Babay?” (“Хто боїться дядечка Бабая?”)

The film is an interpretation/retelling of several Slavic legends. In the beginning, the bird Alkonost (Алконост) lays a magical egg that will grant its owner’s wish. Several characters—the Witch (Відьма), Gorynych the Snake (Змій Горинич), and Viy (Вій)—compete for the egg. The Witch wins, but Babay abruptly steals the egg from her. While the Witch and a demon who is in love with her try to get the egg back, an old couple accidentally get their hands on it. It hatches into a young girl, Svetka-Zoryanka (Світланка-Зорянка). Various other events transpire, and other Slavic fairy-tale characters are introduced, as the various characters try to achieve their happy endings.

In addition to the original Ukrainian version of the film, there is also a Russian adaptation with an entirely different plot and message behind it. Ukrainian star singers Potap and Nastya voiced the Witch and Babay in that version.

Despite producer Edward Akhramovich’s (Эдуард Ахрамович) assertion that the film is more than a fairy tale and can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, it got pretty bad reviews from (adult) reviewers. Nevertheless, as the first full-length Ukrainian animated film, it certainly has something to recommend it. Akhramovich is reportedly planning a full-length sequel to the film, and there is also a short animated series of the same name available on YouTube.


Director: Marina Medvid (Марина Медвідь)
Voiceover actors (Ukrainian version): Rada Belova (Рада Бєлова), Irma Vitovska (Ірма Вітовська), Ostap Stupka (Остап Ступка), Olesya Chichelnitska (Олеся Чичельницька), Boris Georgievskiy (Борис Георгієвський), Volodimir Moyseenko (Володимир Мойсеєнко), Volodimir Danylets (Володимир Данилець), Andriy Sereda (Андрій Середа)
Production studio: Ukranimafilm (Укранімафільм)
Box office take: 2.3 million hryvna


Official trailer:


The first episode of the series:



About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Julie Hersh