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Banned for over 20 years by the Russian authorities for its controversial stance on anti-Semitism and women’s rights, The Commissar was finally screened at the Berlin Film Festival in 1988, where it won the Silver Bear and met with international acclaim.
Set in 1920 during the Russian Civil War, the film follows the story of Clavdia Vavilova, a female Commissar from the Red Army who is sent to stay with a poor Jewish family in the final stages of her pregnancy. The initial hostility and resentment of both parties begins to mellow as they gradually discover that they have more in common than either realised. But following the birth of a son, Clavdia is faced with leaving her newborn behind and returning to the grave realities of war.