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KOLYMA – ROAD OF BONES

During the Stalin era, millions of prisoners lost their lives along the 2,000-km-long Kolyma highway in northeast Russia. Director Stanislaw Mucha follows the route in search of life there today.

Kolyma highway – also known as „the Road of Bones“ or „the Route of Death“ – stretches 2,000 km through deepest northeast Russia. Built during the Stalin era between 1932 and 1953, it is lined with hundreds of labour camps set up after significant gold deposits were discovered in the region. Millions of prisoners worked there for decades under the direst of conditions; over three million perished. With no time for funerals, their bodies were hastily buried along the side of the road; bones can still be found along the road to today. It is probably the world’s longest cemetery. Kolyma was the centre of the Soviet penal camp system, known as the „gulag“. Although of similar historical significance to the holocaust, the gulag camps have never undergone systematic investigation. In the land of gold and extermination through labour, director Stanislaw Much searches for signs of life today: Can you live and find happiness in a place like this? How do you bring up your children, earn a living, sing, or die here? His numerous encounters with people who speak surprisingly candidly about their lives and experiences offer us a view of Kolyma as it is today – always in the shadow of its past, frozen forever in the desolate Siberian landscape.

Feature Documentary
Length 90’ HD
Film by Stanislaw Mucha
Co-production TAG/TRAUM with ZDF/3Sat and HR, with the support of Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM, DFFF, Robert Bosch Stiftung
Original Title Kolyma – Straße der Knochen

Festivals and awards (selection)
DOK Leipzig, Germany 2017
Hot Docs Film Festival, Canada 2018
Achtung Berlin – New Berlin Film Award, Germany 2018
Baltic Sea Forum, Latvia 2018
Kasseler DokFest, Germany 2018
Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Poland 2018