Women of the Gulag is a 2018 documentary film directed by Marianna Yarovskaya and based on the book Women of the Gulag: Stories of Five Remarkable Lives
by Paul Gregory (2013).
Women of the Gulag tells the
compelling and tragic stories of the women – last survivors of the
Gulag, the brutal system of repression and terror that devastated the
Soviet population during the regime of Stalin. The Gulag was first
captured by Solzhenitsyn in his opus, Gulag Archipelago. Never before
the stories of women and women’s experience in these camp was told in an
international documentary film. A collection of unique and candid
interviews with women who survived the Stalin's repression of the
Best Documentary Short shortlist nominee, 2018 Academy Awards.
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- Running time: 53 min.
- Year released: 2018
- Color: Y
- Format: DVD
- Language: English
- Subtitled: Y
- For classroom: Y
- Study guide: N
- Grade level: 6th and up
Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives (Hoover Institution Press Publication Book):
During the course of three decades, Joseph Stalin’s Gulag, a vast network of forced labor camps and settlements, held many millions of prisoners. People in every corner of the Soviet Union lived in daily terror of imprisonment and execution. 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. These firsthand
accounts illustrate how even the wrong word could become a crime against the state. The book begins with a synopsis of Stalin’s rise to power, the roots of the Gulag, and the scheming and plotting that led to and persisted in one of the bloodiest, most egregious dictatorships of the 20th century.
Director: MARIANNA YAROVSKAYA
Producers: MARIANNA YAROVSKAYA and PAUL RODERICK GREGORY
Executive Producers: MITCHELL W BLOCK and MARK JONATHAN HARRIS
"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 of The Less You Know the Better You Sleep
My congratulations and gratitude to the film’s director, Marianna
Yarovskaya. Gratitude for the look, which we need as much as oxygen
today, at our inescapable horror, our damnation and the ineradicable
stain of Russian grief and shame. My thanks to the filmmaker who spoke
out with a true intention, close to me, about events that are just as
terrifying as they are sickening.
Andrey Petrovich Zvyagintsev, an Oscar nominated filmmaker ("Leviathan")
“Women of the Gulag” feels fresh because
it tells a story we haven’t heard before about wives and
mothers in Stalinist Russia, while “Period. End of
Sentence,” whose producers include Oscar strategist Lisa
Taback, centers on another underpublicized issue, the
stigma and lack of access that girls in developing countries
have to sanitary pads. In a tight and competitive year in
thedocumentary category, almost all of the films have a
legitimate chance to land a nomination.
(Steve Pond, The Wrap Magazine, 2019)
We are glad we were able to share this important film with our community here at Harvard.
Cris Martin, Outreach Director,
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Cambridge, MA
Women of the Gulag' is both a
beautiful, finely-crafted piece of film-making and a
precious resource for teaching and understanding the
Soviet Gulag and its echoes in later history from a
neglected point of view. The very different perspectives
and personalities of the women interviewed emerge strongly - the
film's respectful approach gives them the chance to describe
their experiences, and at a moment in time when they will not
be speaking for much longer.
--Sibelan Forrester, Professor
Russian Section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
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
Anne Appelbaum - Columnist, The Washington Post Author (Gulag: A History – 2004 Pulitzer Prize)
...I can only be supportive and grateful to Marianna Yarovskaya
for bringing to life the stories of the women survivors of the Gulag in
her film... for providing a chance for new generations of Russians to
start repairing the bridges to that time.
The film Women of the Gulag is an important document of the era.
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 — dsaid 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.
Vladimir Bukovsky - Regime Opponent, Presidential Candidate, Dissident