A documentary on the women-last survivors of the Gulag

Los Angeles, CA, USA


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Marianna Yarovskaya

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Our subject is Women of the Gulag. The term GULag, which in Russian is an acronym for "Main Camp Administration," has come to mean something much larger than the corrective labor camps under the GULag administration. Rather it signifies the system of repression of the Soviet period, which peaked under Stalin. We use "gulag" broadly to mean the whole mentality of the Soviet repression system, the end point of which was execution or the camps, special settlements, remote places of exile where the victims of repression "sat." Our documentary tells the human stories of the last women survivors of the gulag.

We successfully gathered funding for the first stage of filming - we are very grateful to everyone!

We are now continuing the campaign and the project and are interviewing more women in other parts of Russia. These funds will go towards recording the testimonies on HD video. Clearly the timing is urgent as the survivors and the heroines of the original Stalin gulag are getting very old. This is “the last chance.” Their children are alive, and their testimonies are also very important.  We will include these interviews in the larger film.

A Pulitzer-winning journalist Anne Applebaum expressed in her on-camera interview, "What had happened since the year 2000 is that history has been gradually re-politicized. And the Russians started treating history that way. And that means that 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: "The failure in the West to understand the magnitude of what happened in the Soviet Union and central Europe may not seem to have a profound and immediate implications for the Western way of life, however, in the modern global society, it is important to raise awareness of the global history and politics."

Anne Applebaum, in her on-camera statement tells us that Russia still lacks "that defining moment, that big monument" that will help the Russian people come to terms with their past.


Your donation is tax deductible!!! WOMEN OF THE GULAG is a fiscally sponsored project of the International Documentary Association (IDA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization. Contributions on behalf of WOMEN OF THE GULAG are payable to IDA and are tax deductible less the value of any goods or services received, as allowed by law. The value of goods and services being offered is noted under each donation level.


Для нашего полнометражного фильма, мы планируем провести интервью с женщинами - оставшимися в живых заключенными ГУЛаг. В отличие от большинства мужчин-заключенных, женщины-заключенные, пережившие ГУЛаг, еще живы. Их осталось мало, некоторым из них глубоко за 90. И так же мало осталось времени у нас, чтобы рассказать их удивительные истории. Нескольких наших героинь мы планируем снимать этим летом.

Как говорит одна из героинь нашего фильма, "Для россиян понимание истории ГУЛага как неотъемлeмой части всего советского периода истории абсолютно необходимо, если они хотят понять, почему их общество сегодня такое, какое оно есть. Полупризнаниями и полуизвинениями перед жертвами репрессий, которых за прошедшие годы было немало, тут не обойтись. В России до сих пор нет большого памятника жертвам, большого музея, а главное - большого понимания кровавой истории ГУЛaга."


A Quote from Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer-winning Author of "Gulag: A History":

"I wish to express my support for Dr. Paul Gregory’s and Marianna Yarovskaya’s documentary project, Women of the Gulag. <> Although there have been a number of excellent Gulag documentaries, this film is intended to tell the personal stories of just a few former prisoners in greater detail. It will also focus 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. <>

Aside from its historic value, a project like this one has special significance in the light of contemporary Russian politics. In recent years, under President Putin, Soviet and Russian history have been re-politicized, and 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. This project is also urgent, of course, because most of their subjects are in their advanced years, and their stories have to be recorded now."

Anne Applebaum
Columnist, the Washington Post
Author, Gulag: A History (2004 Pulitzer Prize)


Я хочу поддержать проект документального фильма доктора Пола Грегори и продюсера Марианны Яровской "Женщины ГУЛага". Хотя уже было снято несколько прекрасных документальных лент о ГУЛаге, в этом фильме упор делается на личные истории нескольких бывших заключенных, рассказанные с такими подробностями, которые ранее нигде не звучали. К тому же это будут истории женщин - заключенных, чей опыт значительно отличается от опыта мужчин. Кроме всех других тягот лагерей, изнасилования, беременности, материнство были частью их жизни в ГУЛаге.

Помимо исторического значения, такой проект очень важен в контексте современной российской политики. В последние годы, при президенте Путине, советская и российская история подверглись политическому пересмотру, и сталинский период теперь часто рассматривается политиками, писателями, режиссерами, и, к сожалению, публикой как "неоднозначный". Истории жертв ГУЛага, рассказанные простыми людьми, которые зачастую плохо понимали (или вообще не понимали) того, что с ними происходило, - это прекрасная прививка против такой исторической амнезии.

Этот проект не терпит отлагательств. Героини будущего фильма находятся в крайне преклонном возрасте, и их истории надо рассказать сегодня и сейчас.

Анна Аппельбаум

Обозреватель газеты «Вашингтон Пост»

Автор книги "Гулаг: История" (Пулитцеровская премия за 2004 г.)


From: yermolai solzhenitsyn
Date: October 13, 2012 5:11:08 AM PDT
Subject: Re: Filming “Women of the Gulag” in Russia


Today’s Russia is a society transformed by staggering change, a land of much energy, tremendous resources and opportunities, yet one facing also many a momentous challenge, as we seek to chart our way forward.

One significant handicap for us in this quest is the dearth of memory, a striking absence of knowledge and even of interest in the recent past. As a result we are too often moored in the tactics of the current moment, losing the perspective and the lessons from preceding generations, unable to heed the heritage, the history, the good, the evil, the warnings and the bitter testimony stretching out to us from our forebears in the twentieth century. Not knowing, not needing and not caring to objectively understand one’s past casts a dark shadow indeed on the prospects of any nation’s future.

Thus we should be thankful for every sincere effort to bring our history back, to help us face, digest, discuss and come to terms with it. Even if too many in the current adult generation in Russia prefer to hide from this painful chapter of the Gulag, the younger generations will want and inevitably need to know the whole truth, will simply be unable to build a healthy society until the rot hidden from memory and light somewhere deep within is duly exposed and considered. And so 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 and book, for jarring our memory, for providing a chance for new generations of Russians to look directly into those faces and those eyes, to listen firsthand to their testimony, to start repairing the bridges to that time, which we so desperately must do in order to earn a worthy future.

Yermolai Solzhenitsyn
Moscow, October 2012


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10 GBP
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You will get a THANK YOU in the credits of the feature length documentary and on IMDB. (This reward is fully tax deductible.

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

30 GBP
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The above, PLUS: We will send you a code for a DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the feature length documentary. (This reward is fully tax deductible.)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

35 GBP
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ll of the above, PLUS: An electronic version of the forthcoming book by Dr. Paul Roderick Gregory, WOMEN OF THE GULAG (an e-book, Hoover Institution Press), with embedded video bits of the main characters. (Amount over $15 is tax deductible.)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

40 GBP
0 backers

All of the above, PLUS: A paperback version of the forthcoming book by Dr. Paul Roderick Gregory, WOMEN OF THE GULAG, autographed by the author + a signed DVD of the 20-minute version of the documentary. (Amount over $15 is tax deductible.)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

50 GBP
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All the above, PLUS: We will mail you a BLUE-RAY DVD of the feature length documentary. (Amount over $30 is tax deductible.)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

150 GBP
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All of the above, PLUS: We will include your name in the SPECIAL THANKS (instead of other credits) section of the credits of the feature length documentary. (Amount over $30 is tax deductible!)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

500 GBP
0 backers

All of the above, PLUS: We will include your name in the SPECIAL THANKS (instead of other credits) section of the credits of the feature length documentary. (Amount over $30 is tax deductible!)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

1000 GBP
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All of the above, PLUS: We will upgrade your credit to ASSOCIATE PRODUCER (instead of other credits) of the feature length documentary. (Amount over $30 is tax deductible!)

Estimated delivery: Jan 2014.

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