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 Mucha 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.
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