“Since the year 2000 is that history has been gradually re-politicized. And the Russians started treating history that way. They’ve become more sensitive again about discussing this sort of crimes of their past. For the Russians, understanding the history of the gulag is absolutely crucial. It is also crucial for the West.
Women of the Gulag tells the personal stories of just a few former prisoners in greater detail. It focuses on the stories of women, which differed in a number of ways from that of their male counterparts. Rape, pregnancy and motherhood were a part of the Gulag experience too.
Although there have been a number of excellent Gulag documentaries, this film focuses on the stories of women, where rape, pregnancy and motherhood were a part of their Gulag experience. In recent years, under President Putin, the Stalin period has come to be viewed with ambiguity by politicians, writers, film makers, and regrettably the public. The stories of the victims of the gulag, told by simple people who had little or no understanding of why this was happening to them, make an excellent antidote to creeping historical amnesia.”
Anne Applebaum Columnist, the Washington Post
Author, Gulag: A History (2004 Pulitzer Prize)
“Slave labor under Stalin was not just for men. There were also women.
Now, Marianna Yarovskaya has told their story in ‘Women of the Gulag’, the first film dedicated to the some of the Stalin’s most vulnerable victims. Beautifully shot and capturing the desolation of being exiled to the end of the earth, the film describes the Gulag as it was lived and the indomitable will of its female victims to survive.”
David Satter, Author and Journalist
“Women of the Gulag is not just a fine historical documentary but a searing film of rare testimony by female survivors of Stalinist inhumanity. A film made just in time.”
Robert Service, Professor of History, emeritus, Oxford
“…I can only be supportive and grateful to Paul Gregory and Marianna Yarovskaya for bringing to life the stories of the women survivors of the Gulag in their film… for providing a chance for new generations of Russians to start repairing the bridges to that time.”
The USSR was a huge zone of human suffering. Inside that zone there was also a hell that contained its powerless slaves—the GULAG. But within that hell, there was an even more terrible hell.
Varlam Shalamov — the great writer who lived through the GULAG hell — said the women in the camps were slaves of the slaves. Their experience was so horrific that eyewitnesses were afraid to describe it in detail.
I could not understand how you can make a film about «what a person should not know, should not see, and if he has, he is better off dead,» as Shalamov wrote.
Marianna Yarovskaya has managed to do it. Her heroines, who survived the GULAG, say almost nothing about their suffering. But I could hear their desperate screams during their silences.
To go through such suffering without going mad is a spiritual feat. To make such a film is a moral feat. I would compare the appearance of Women of the Gulag with the appearance of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. The Gulag Archipelago was awarded the Nobel Prize. I am glad that there is the opportunity to award an Oscar to Women of the Gulag.
Regime Opponent, Presidential Candidate, Dissident
I’m writing this letter to support the documentary film Women of the Gulag that has been short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). This film directed by Marianna Yarovskaia contains personal life stories of six women who were repressed under Stalin and spent part of their lives in the Gulag. The film combines the cruel truth about the situation of the prisoners of the camps, narrated by them themselves, with the chronicle shots made in the camps. The film has a high artistic dignity and makes you think about the roots of the anti-human repressive system.
Professor of the History, Moscow State University
Member of Russian Academy of Sciences
The stories these women tell could just as well have been told by any number of the women in Stalin’s Russia who ended up in the Gulag. Some fared better than the women here, others did considerably worse, and many died. None who survived, I suspect, will have been able to leave the experience behind them. We are fortunate that Fekla, Vera, Nadezhda, Elena, Ksenia and Adile subsequently dedicated their life to letting it be known what happened to them and recounting the atrocities they witnessed. Marianna Yarovskaya has now fashioned these women’s stories into a fifty-minute incontrovertible indictment of Russia’s failure to face up to its past.
Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who spent eight years incarcerated, described the harsh conditions of the camps (a taboo subject) in his seminal book The Gulag Archipelago, which initially circulated illegally under samizdat. Women of the Gulag bears witness through eye-witness testimony of the female experience of Stalinist repression. Also subject to back-breaking labour, women were under increased threat of rape, and some bore children inside the camps. Six women — Vera, Ksenia, Elena, Fekla, Nadezhda, and Adile — who are in their eighties and nineties recount their experiences. Now in their last days (all but one died shortly after their interviews), they speak with little hesitation, seeming eager to have their stories heard; the truth of their ordeals recorded, indelible.
Modern Times Review
The European Documentary Magazine