Me Ivan, You Abraham

Me Ivan, You Abraham / Я — Іван, ты — Абрам

Published: March 18, 2017

I’m Ivan, You’re Abraham (Я — Іван, ты — Абрам) is a 1993 French–Belarusian film. It is in Belarusian, Polish, and Yiddish. The film was Belarus’s 1994 submission to the Academy Awards for consideration for Best Foreign Language Film (and one of only two films independent Belarus has ever submitted).

The film takes place in 1930s Poland, in a village on the border with the Russian Empire (i.e., present-day Belarus), and tells the story of a Christian boy, Ivan, who goes to live with a Jewish family to learn a trade. He becomes close friends with the family’s son, Abraham, but, of course, it’s 1930s Poland—their world is rife with anti-Semitism. When rumors arise of an upcoming pogrom that will target Abraham’s grandfather, the boys flee together. They show their unusual solidarity and closeness during their journey together. The film highlights the troubles of the Romani of the time, in addition to Jews; it also depicts the underground communist activities of Abraham’s brother, Aaron.

The film won awards at both Cannes and the Moscow International Film Festival in 1993, and was exhibited at a number of other festivals worldwide. It was written and directed by the French filmmaker Yolande Zauberman, and was her first feature film; she has gone on to direct a number of acclaimed documentaries. One of the film’s stars, Vladimir Mashkov (Владимир Машков), who plays Aaron, is a highly acclaimed Soviet/Russian actor and a Distinguished Artist of the Russian Federation.

The film was produced by Belarusfilm (Беларусьфільм), Belarus’s government film agency, which has been in existence since the 1920s. The film is unusual among Belarusfilm’s productions both for its language (Belarusian and Yiddish, as opposed to Russian) and subject matter (anti-Semitism).


Director: Yolande Zauberman
Stars (transliterations in Russian, not Belarusian): Roma Aleksandrovich (Рома Александрович), Sasha Yakovlev (Саша Яковлев), Vladimir Mashkov (Владимир Машков), Mariya Lipkina (Мария Липкина), Aleksandr Kalyagin (Александр Калягин)
Production company: Belarusfilm (Беларусьфільм)


Unfortunately, the official trailer is not available on YouTube. Clips may be available on KinoPoisk.


 Me Ivan, You Abraham



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

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