Benya Krik

USSR, 1926, 90 minutes, B&W
Silent with English intertitles
Directed by Vladimir Vilner
Written by Isaac Babel

with complete new English Intertitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

Buy Now

Public Exhibition Format: 35mm

Russian Silent Film Classic

The seamy Jewish underworld of Odessa is the setting for Isaac Babel's story based on the life of gangster king Mishka Yaponchik ("Mike the Jap") Vinnitsky. Murder is a way of life for Benya Krik and his gang. They profit from their criminal activities until the Russian Revolution when the local commissar sets them up as a "revolutionary" regiment, complete with tattooed red stars. But this new post backfires for Benya as he finds himself ensnared in a Bolshevik trap.

"Vladimir Vilner’s 1927 Benya Krik is a long-lost evocation of Isaac Babel’s Odessa, shot on location, and directed from a script written by Babel himself. Babel was 30 years old and at the peak of his popularity when he went to work for the Ukrainian studio, VUFKU. Benya Krik’s first two-thirds are taken from a pair of published stories set in Odessa’s prerevolutionary Jewish underworld; the last section, set in 1919, is original—albeit based on the actual demise of Benya’s real-life prototype, gangster king Mishka Yaponchik (“Mike the Jap”) Vinnitsky....Opening in Kiev in early 1927, Benya Krik was almost immediately banned by the Ukrainian office for political education."
--J. Hoberman, Village Voice

Festival & Event Screenings

New York Jewish Film Festival 2016 - Special Screening with live music by Peter Freisinger
Kino Forum, Bialystok Cultural Center - with live music (2015)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival
Jewish Museum of London with live music by Robin Harris
Harrogate International Festival with live music
South Bank Centre, London with live music
Musee d’art et d’histoire du Judaisme, Paris with live music
Filmhaus Nürnberg; Nuremberg, Germany
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Ashkenaz Festival, Toronto
Maine Jewish Film Festival
New York Jewish Film Festival
Pacific Film Archive

NCJF Film Restoration

Restoration was completed with support from Brandeis University, Gosfilmofond, American Film Institute, Massachusetts Cultural Council, National Endowment for the Arts & The Righteous Persons Foundation

Restoration © 1996 The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Translator Robert Szulkin
Consultant J. Hoberman
Technical Director Richard Pontius
Assistant John Quackenbush
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory Cinema Arts, Inc.


Director Vladimir Vilner
Producer Film Studio One VUFKU
Screenplay Isaac Babel
Camera Aleksei Kaluzhnyi
Production Design Georgi Baizengerts
Artist Georgi Baizengerts

Matvei Liarov (Mendel Krik)
Yuri Shumskii (Benya Krik)
A. Goricheva (Dvoira)
A. Babnik (Her Bridegroom)
Nikolai Nademskii (Kolka Pakovskii)
Teodor Brainin (Lyovka Byk)
A. Sashin (Saveli Butsis)
O. Maratti (Froim Grach)
M. Smolenski (Marants)
E. Lepkovsky (Tartakovskii)
Leonid Barbe (Mugenshtein, his clerk)
V. Kozhevnikova (Gypsy Girl)
Ivan Zamychkivskii (Glechik, Aid to Police Captain)
N. Kuchinskii (Sokovich, Policeman)
Sergei Minin (Sobkov, Commissar)
I. Sizov (Kochetkov, His Aide)
L. Chembarskii (Auctioneer)

Purchase the Film

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information

Educational Use Pricing Explain

Classroom/Library Use DVD: $150

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Digital Site Licensing (DSL) available - Contact us

Step down pricing for K-12 & public libraries may be available - Contact us

Arrange a screening - Contact us

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