Yarovskaya and Gregory Screen “Women of the Gulag” in Moscow

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Alexander Solzhenitsyn (left) and dinner at home of Solzhenitsyn’s personal secr
Image credit: 
Marianna Yarovskaya

Yarovskaya and Gregory Screen “Women of the Gulag” in Moscow at the December 11, 2012, birthday commemoration of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Russian-American film maker Marianna Yarovskaya presented the trailer and still photographs from her documentary film (filmed in association with Hoover Research Fellow Paul Gregory) “Women of the Gulag” at this year’s December 11 commemoration of Alexander Solzhenitsyn‘s birthday at the Solzhenitsyn Foundation in Moscow. Based on Gregory’s forthcoming Hoover Press book Women of the Gulag, the film trailer and project were met with praise and support from Solzhenitsyn’s colleagues and friends gathered at the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of the Russian Abroad in central Moscow.

Marianna Yarovskaya made the presentation, gave a status report on the progress of the feature documentary film, and fielded questions and suggestions. She attended the memorial dinner after the event at the home of Solzhenitsyn’s personal secretary, Nadezhda Levitskaya, whose story is one of the six featured in the documentary. (See photos of the dinner taken by Yarovskaya.)

The Solzhenitsyn Foundation, or The Alexander Solzhenitsyn Memorial House of the Russian Abroad, was founded seventeen years ago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It was funded from the royalties from Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in 1970. The Solzhenitsyn Foundation hosts conferences, exhibitions, lectures, films and occasionally concerts and publishes a wide range of texts relating to the Gulag and its victims and survivors.

Solzhenitsyn was banned from the Soviet Union in 1974. He returned in 1994, except for brief visits to his native Russia. Solzhenitsyn served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution until his death in 2008. He wrote the preface (along with Hoover Research Fellow Robert Conquest) to the eight-volume History of Stalin’s Gulag, published jointly by the Russian Archival Service and the Hoover Institution. This collection won the 2005 Human Rights Award of the Russian Federation.

Every year since 1981, in celebration of his birthday on December 11, associates and friends of Alexander Solzhenitsyn have organized exhibitions that feature victims of the Gulag and other material associated with the Soviet penal system and its consequences. The featured exhibit this year was the Yarovskaya-Gregory documentary, “Women of the Gulag,” which tells the stories of six women survivors of Stalin’s Gulag.

Originally held in a communal apartment, attendance at the Solzhenitsyn birthday celebration was initially limited to a close circle of friends and acquaintances of Solzhenitsyn. The exhibitions that followed featured photographs, poetry, and lists of victims—both well known and ordinary people. The exhibitions were intended to supplement Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. In the early years, a dozen or so people gathered on December 11; all were dissidents conducting an active battle against the system. In the 1990s, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the December 11 meetings expanded and its exhibitions became open to a larger public. It was not until December 11, 1994, that Solzhenitsyn himself attended.

For information on the documentary, the book, and movie trailer, see Cynthia Haven’s review.