Eighty years ago (November 17, 1938) Stalin ended the Great Terror, citing “local excesses” that had come to his attention. It wasn’t until two decades later that the KGB tallied the victims of the sixteen-month reign of terror at 1,334,360. Half were shot, and the rest sentenced to the Gulag. The Gulag itself continued to grow during and after the Second World War. It reached its peak of 2.5 million prisoners shortly before Stalin’s death. Of these, one out of five were women.
Marianna Yarovskaya’s Undesirables won a Student Academy Award in 2001. Since then, she has worked for dozens of programs for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, History Channel, Greenpeace, Animal Planet as producer and senior editor. She also worked on two Academy Award-winning features and one Academy nominated film as a researcher, and directed an award winning film, Holy Warriors. Producers Guild of America (PGA) member.
The film is based on Hoover Institution Press Publication’s Paul Gregory’s book Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives. In researching the surviving threads of memoirs and oral reminiscences of five women victimized by the Gulag, author
Paul R. Gregory has stitched together a collection of stories from the female perspective, a view in short supply. Capturing the fear, paranoia, and unbearable hardship that were hallmarks of Stalin’s Great Terror, Gregory relates the stories of five women from different social strata and regions in vivid prose, from their pre-Gulag lives, through their struggles to survive in the repressive atmosphere of the late 1930s and early 1940s, to the difficulties facing the four who survived as they adjusted to life after the Gulag.