A film by CERES faculty Susan Solomon and Thomas Lahusen, In Search of Roubakine, will be screened at the 8th Annual COMMFFEST film and arts festival
The search for a 20th century Russian émigré, whose world was the “no place” of border crossings. A refugee from Tsarist prison, Alexander Roubakine (1889-1979) studied medicine in Paris. Prevented by his Russian passport from practising medicine in France, Roubakine assumed a series of go-between roles. He was a loyal servant of the Soviet government in France, health expert at the League of Nations in Geneva, and fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York.
In 1941, he was imprisoned in French concentration camps in the Pyrenees and Algeria. Repatriated in 1943, he became a researcher in the Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow, favoured with the privilege of foreign travel. Roubakine’s parallel lives made him an important intermediary between Russia and the West, but they complicated his allegiances and sense of identity. The film chronicles a double odyssey—the passages of Roubakine and his pursuit by the filmmakers, always a step behind their quarry. Shot in Paris, Moscow, Geneva, Lausanne, and New York, the film contrasts the “voice” of Roubakine that sounds from his autobiographical statements against interviews with surviving family members, personal photos and letters, and official Soviet-era documents.
The film is directed by Thomas Lahusen and Susan Solomon, produced by Susan Solomon.