DOK Leipzig 29 October – 4 November 2018
61st International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film
DOK Leipzig Film Festival

Kolyma – Road of Bones

Kolyma – Road of Bones

“Goulash?,” the young woman looking out of the hatch of a combined hot dog and pizza stand on the side of the windy Kolyma route asks again. No, Stanislaw Mucha did ask for “Gulag”. And he is astonished to find that here, where the Soviet penal and labour camp system shaped the natural and living environment for decades, the term isn’t commonly used. Actually, for all intents and purposes, the filmmaker’s journey seems to be more of a trip through wordscapes. It begins in Magadan Bay, which earned its nickname “gate to hell” as the port of entry for the forced labourers. It continues along the “longest graveyard in the world”, as the long distance road from the Sea of Okhotsk to Yakutsk is occasionally called. But it also crosses the paths of the living, those who stayed here or were born here, who more often than not have better things to do than to revolve around that genius loci. Encounters as inspiring electric discharges on the horizon of expectations – like those electric pulses an amateur physician picked up along the way wants to use to rejuvenate his old father.

When the present overwrites the past, when the Putin era superimposes the Soviet era, when the eternal periphery is allowed to actively participate in the snapshots made of it, the result are bone dry punch lines: for example that slow motion pop music video Mucha treats a girls’ dancing troupe to as he drives by.

Sylvia Görke

Nominated for ver.di Prize for Solidarity, Humanity and Fairness, Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize, DEFA Sponsoring Prize


Original Title: Kolyma – Straße der Knochen
Country: Germany
Year: 2017
Language: Russian
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 85 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Stanislaw Mucha
Producer: Gerd Haag
Cinematographer: Enno Endlicher
Editor: Emil Rosenberger, Stanislaw Mucha
Music: Eike Hosenfeld, Moritz Denis, Tim Stanzel
Sound: Tim Altrichter
Script: Stanislaw Mucha

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2018 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.