Women of the Gulag, a documentary film based on Hoover Fellow Paul Gregory's Hoover Institution Press book of the same title, has been named has been named Best Short Documentary at the 2019 Reykjavík Film Festival.
The film, directed by Marianna Yarovskaya of MayFilms and produced by Yarovskaya and Gregory, was also short-listed in the best documentary category in the 2019 Academy Awards competition.
Drawing upon Gregory’s 2013 book, Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives, the film tells the compelling and tragic stories of women who survived the Gulag— the brutal system of repression and terror that devastated the Soviet population, particularly during the Stalin dictatorship. Gregory’s book was based on his research at the Hoover Library & Archives.
Women of the Gulag was first screened on September 21, 2018, in Santa Monica and in New York shortly thereafter. Both the film and book highlight Gregory’s research on the oft-forgotten female victims of the Gulag. The works document Stalin’s rise to power, the history of the Gulag, and the context behind one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the twentieth century.
Gregory offers the narratives as oral histories from the women subjects’ perspectives, tracing their stories from their pre-Gulag lives, through their struggles to survive in the repressive atmosphere of the late 1930s and early 1940s, to their difficulties as they adjusted to life after the Gulag.
The film’s Russian premiere was at the Moscow Film Festival, where it played to three sold-out performances with commentary by Natalia and Yermolai Solzhenitsyn, wife and son of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose writings brought global attention to the Gulag system. Its London premiere was at the Barbican Centre, and the film was subsequently shown at the Hoover Institution, Harvard, Yale, University of Maryland, Swarthmore, and other university venues.
The film was also named the Best Non-European Independent Documentary in the 2019 European Independent Film Festival, held in Paris. Yarovskaya has signed with Russian network television for Women of the Gulag to be shown on Rossiya 1. Women of the Gulag will also be shown on Aeroflot international flights over the next six months. The DVD of the film is now available for purchase by libraries and academic programs.
Clifton B. Parker, Hoover Institution: (650) 498-5204, cbparker [at] stanford.edu