films of gulag
On foot through gulag land – series
cannot even hope to understand or interpret the Gulag or the Holocaust
without a knowledge of its minute detalis. This is why it is important to
learn the one-time Gulag camps and their setting.
It is my experience that totalitarian ideas are constantly
The series shows my experiences during my search for the
remains of the one-time Gulag camps. I covered several thousand kilometres by
foot, recording on film what life is like today in these regions, as well as
surprising encounters, testimonies and reminiscences of the past.
Part 1 Searching for the
camps in the Northern Urals, where János
Rózsás had been imprisoned, I found a still active prison zone, where the
trees are felled by prison inmates even today. A slightly drunk Komi man
apologizes for what he did in Budapest in 1956, as a conscript.
Part 2 György Zoltán
Bien, who fled to the US in 1956 after Soviet troops overran Budapest, had
been a prisoner of the Gulag earlier. Searching for the camps along the River Kolyma, I often lost my
way in the vast uninhabited region. I befriend Even reindeer herders at one
of the camp ruins. Gold miners tell me about the heaps of human bones marking
the one-time location of the Serpantika camp, used for executions in the
Part 3 I travel to the
Vorkuta coalmines, where Imre Gyula Szekeres was imprisoned, through the Polar Urals. A Khanty family
of reindeer herders recounts why their families had been deported to the
Gulag, and how escaped convicts had murdered their relatives during the
Part 4 My search for the
camps, where Magdolna Rhor and Sándor Adorján were imprisoned and forced to
build the railway line, takes me to the River Angara. I meet a former
prisoner who had been born in Manchuria, and I interview a former camp
commander, who recounts how the Japanese prisoners froze to death. I also
manage to speak with a Latvian man and others, who tell me what life was like
in the camps.
Part 5 Using István
Szak’s memoirs as a guidebook, I search for the most ill-famed death camp in
the Karlag in Kazakhstan. I am
accompanied by a half-Lithuanian, half-Ukrainian film director living in
Kazakhstan, who had been born in the Gulag and wants to revisit his place of
birth, the Karaganda camp.
Part 6 Looking for the
camps, where the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy had been
imprisoned, I find myself in the place where the Gulag, the vast network of
Soviet concentration camps was born. Walking through the woods of Karelia, dotted with
graves of the executed prisoners, I eventually reach the still heavily
guarded White Sea–Baltic canal, the first major construction project employing
These films are intended as a memorial to the millions of
innocent victims of the Gulag, and they offer an insight into the life of the
regions, where these camps once stood.
of Congress, Washington D.C.
Embassy of the Republic of Hungary,
Mediawave International Film Festival, 2002
Vagabond – Hungarian Adventure Sport and Nature Film Festival,
Slowfilm Festival – 2007
Ministry of Defence, Hungary 2010 – Honours