Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Documentary Film: The Soviet Story

This just in by email:

Watch: A Soviet Story

This documentary film by a Latvian director shows how the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany instigate the Holocaust. Furthermore, it’s a documentary about the Soviet crimes against humanity and its own people.

More importantly, it underlines the similarity of Soviet and Nazi regimes and undisputed ways of how they helped and supported each other.

It ends with a conclusion of how Europe lacks political will to fully condemn Communist crimes against humanity. With Germany and Russia building gas pipelines together, it is difficult to imagine one being vocal against the other, and requiring e.g extradition of former Soviet KGB interrogators who tortured many people to death. They continue to live in Moscow as decorated veterans.

“The Soviet Story” is directed by Edvins Snore, who spent 10 years gathering information and two years filming in several countries. Among those interviewed in the film are Western and Russian historians, as well as survivors of the Soviet Gulag.

This is not a pure documentary and not a pure scholarly work. It injects drama and cinematography that goes beyond what we usually see in documentaries.

I watched the first 20 minutes and will be watching it all with hubby on the weekend. What I saw of it was heartbreaking, but I think it's important to broaden one's knowledge of the awful details of the communist regime. This film certainly starts out doing that.

It's narrated in English and contains a lot of archival documentary footage. There are a few eye-witness accounts that don't have English captions for the Ukrainian-impaired, but the tone of voice, gestures, and footage get the basic point across.

It's about 85 minutes in length, and can be viewed online and/or downloaded.

Get it here, or here. If you do watch it, I'd be interested in your thoughts on it.

Update: Make sure to buy a copy of this film, as by doing so you will support the film-maker, and encourage the production of similar films. Buy additional copies to give as gifts to friends and family, and/or as donations to schools and libraries. Purchase details are here.


Anonymous said...

I have to question your sources for links for video media on the internet.

Supernovatube is notoriously infamous for hosting illegal Hollywood content which is available for illegal download.

Has this video been made available for download or has someone posted this illegally. This has to bring your media ethics into question.

Andrew said...

Pawlina you should include a link to buy the DVD when it comes out at some point next year http://www.sovietstory.com/buy-dvd/


Pawlina said...

Thanks, Andrew. As soon as I get that info you can be sure I will pass it on.

As listeners of Nash Holos know, promoting artists and encouraging listeners (and in this case viewers) is something I strongly believe in and routinely do on my program ... and have since day one. It's precisely what I mean by "Svih do svoho."

Ukrainian artists and filmmakers have been shut out of the mainstream media industry (or should I say media distribution industry) since the get-go so I've made it a point to do what little I can with a one-hour weekly radio program and this blog.

If you are in contact with the producer or distributor of the video, Andrew, please give them my coordinates ... along with my congratulations for this excellent exposé.

Pawlina said...

Anonymous, do you work for the RIAA by any chance ... or perhaps the KGB?

Or do you just think the readers of this blog and I are not smart enough to recognize an association fallacy?

Pawlina said...

Andrew, I should clarify what it is I encourage my listeners (and readers of this blog) to do ... and that is to buy the CDs of artists featured on Nash Holos! Ditto the products and services of the advertisers.

Tune in to tomorrow's program for an example...from an interview I recorded last week with a Montreal musician. :-)

And thanks for the link to where to buy the DVD... and for reminding me of my oversight. I've updated my post and will make sure to include a little pitch to purchase with such posts in the future.

Andrew said...

Hey no objections from me. I beat you to this story a month ago.

Pawlina said...

Ha! So you did, and it slipped by me. Mea culpa.

Guess it's time to get back into using my RSS feed reader. I was doing great at it for awhile.... until I tried to emulate Robert Scoble, who I recall saying at a blog conference a while ago that he went through a few hundred feeds daily. Yoy! The average person is hard pressed to keep up that kind of a pace!

But since then, the Ukie blogosphere has been developing nicely. So, guess it's time to cull my RSS feed list and get it more focused, so I don't miss good posts and end up with egg on my face!

Anonymous said...

I am even further surprised by your lack of knowledge between the RIAA and MPAA. You promote the distribution of video on the internet when it suites your political agenda and then accuse of KGB association or whatever is "association fallacy ".

Deflecting your own ignorance about copyrighted materials illegally floating around on the internet is shocking and really surprising for someone who works in the media.

Own up to the fact that you made a mistake!

Pawlina said...

Oh Anonymous, give it a rest.

Digital rights are complex and still evolving. There's a lot that even legal experts aren't sure about or clear on. As the industry reacts to the unprecedented changes the internet is bringing, precendents are just in the process of being set and thereby creating the basis for future laws.

So please knock off the ad hominen attacks. They're really annoying.

If you're so concerned that the producer of the film is compensated for his work, and know so much more about digital rights than I do, why don't you identify yourself and contribute constructively and helpfully to a serious discussion on the matter... instead of hiding behind the cloak of anonymity and engaging in what looks suspiciouly like a citizen journalist variation of "gotcha" journalism?

Unless your presence here is
motivated by some sort of hidden agenda...?

Andrew said...

Anonymous, if your so concerned if the film was uploaded legally, why aren't you advocating on the sites that they're posted on?

And while we appreciate your vigilance for piracy, Pawlina's site is not even ad-supported as it does not generate any revenue for this post. This is was done purely to promote the movie for its own sake.


Pawlina said...

Thanks, Andrew. Your comment really speaks to the whole matter of piracy vs promotion.

Most independent filmmakers, like indie musicians, are generally thrilled to get exposure for their work on the internet, since they can seldom get any from the traditional media... especially films that expose the evils of communism.

I find it very hard to believe that groups like the MPAA would be concerned about revenues being diverted from their coffers as a result of this film being uploaded and/or downloaded from the internet.

The concern more likely is the content of the film itself, and I suspect that raising the issue of piracy here was a red herring designed to squelch discussion of the film.

The fact that the discussion on this post doesn't even start to address the content of the film seems to support that conclusion.

Stanislav said...

Yes, I am going to buy this DVD once it appears on the market. As I've bought recently film "Ukraine, the Birth of a Nation" (J. Hoffman) Ordered those two DVD's from Montreal based www.Yevshan.com This is just the history of Ukraine from Tripillia era to The Orange Revolution. Simple, but very balanced and well directed movie. I'd suggest it for middle/high schools. And J. Hoffman just a great gifted man who loves Ukraine.

Hope this movie about Soviet terror will be released soon on DVD.

You know... One of great Kapranov brothers said once: "Хочеш бути українцем - плати" "If you wanna be Ukrainian - pay for it". This is in accord what you Pawlina mentioned about support by paying for Ukrainian or Ukraine friendly movies.

Andrew said...

Wow what a great find!. I had never heard of these videos before. I am going to add a few of these to my Christmas list, the only other Ukie video on there is A Kingdom Reborn: Treasures from Ukrainian Galicia.

Pawlina said...

Did you just recently discover Yevshan, Andrew, or did I misunderstand what you meant about a great find?

But talking about great finds ... what a fabulous film "A Kingdom Reborn" looks like. Thanks for sharing!

Pawlina said...

Great saying, Stan!

It kind of resonates back to the old saying from the pioneer days: Svih do svoho ... which I translated as "Buy Ukrainian!" And which listeners of Nash Holos hear quite often. :-)

I think our community misses the boat on this. All too often, people (including me!) are more than willing to pay through the nose for mainstream movies, CDs, newspapers and magazines, etc. yet expect Ukrainian cultural products to be free or very cheap.

Perhaps the producers of those products just need to market them better. But then, marketing costs money, too, on top of the costs of production. So it's a bit of a vicious circle.

Good for you, Stan, for not needing the stimulus of marketing messages to support the producers of Ukrainian cultural products. Molodetz!

Anonymous said...


Im from Latvian, and have seen this move a lot. Its free to download.Director wants everyone to see cruelty of USSR, not to become famous and rich

Pawlina said...

Hello, Latvia! Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your comment.

Your point illustrates perfectly why the internet has clobbered the entertainment and media industries.

If you are in touch with the director, please relay my thanks and congratulations for this outstanding production. An incredibly powerful, moving film.

As we Ukrainians like to say: Molodetz!

Orest said...

This is a very interesting discussion about legalities.

I true believe that if someone downloads the movie that there is very little incentive to buy the DVD. Thus depriving the moviemaker of recouping the large costs involved in making such a production. Therefore the links to the movie should be removed. If you want to see the movie they should buy the DVD.

If the director really wanted to make this available for free as some anonymous poster from Latvia suggested, it would be made available on the website and not on some illegal movie hosting website.

It states clearly on the directors website that "To adhere to the film’s copyrights all screenings require approval and authorization."

I am somewhat divided on the question of downloading, but I believe it should not be encouraged and if the person really wants to download it they will find it by themselves.

The more downloads the less sales and that's a fact!

Pawlina said...

Orest, I'm surprised at your comment. Didn't you maintain, when you were running your wonderful Ukrainian Musical Matters blog, that music should be free???

So what would be the difference with film? It's just another entertainment (and/or educational) product.

As for the effect of downloads vs sales, that is opinion, not fact. I have yet to see a direct correlation made proving beyond a doubt that downloading is the sole reason for declining sales in the music industry, and not other factors, like product quality, popularity, and competition.

Like it or not, the internet along with cheap and easy-to-use computer gadgetry have had a huge impact on the pop culture industry, largely by providing choices where there were none before. The old business model was based on an exclusive production/distribution system that made it prohibitively expensive to produce and pretty well impossible to distribute competitive products on a mass scale.

Those days are gone, and the visionaries in the industry are building a new business model. Check out the Creative Commons for starters... which (as I discovered at a recent copyright seminar) some entertainment/IP gurus like to call "copyleft" ...as opposed to copyright. (I personally think they have the labelling mixed up, but that's beside the point.)

The point is that the medium is not the message, at least not anymore. If I'm wrong and it really actually is, then the medium is undergoing a serious transformation ... and the smart players are driving it.

The current economic meltdown is exacerbating the effects of the internet on the industry, levelling the playing field even further.

I think the smaller players are wise to look "outside the box" and take advantage of that opportunity. I'm glad to see that many, like this Latvian producer, are.

Orest said...


I don't believe that view was ever articulated on the blog itself but maybe in conversations with you personally.

The difference with music is that the artist has different venues to make their living.

There's actual music sales, concerts, merchandise, personal appearance fees etc.

I'm no fan of the music cartels but lets face it as soon as downloading became popular, CD sales began to decline. I don't think that you have to draw a sketch.

Whereas someone who produces a documentary only has very limited venues to recoup the cost. I agree with the Latvian poster who said that the director is not out to be rich and famous. But the cost has to recouped or there will be no further productions. Costs soar higher a higher each year.

And I thoroughly believe that when dealing with the Ukrainian community on projects associated with music or video that one should get their monies upfront. I have been trounced twice with Volyn Song and Dance Ensemble projects and tend to not deal with such projects anymore.

Andrew said...

Which copyright laws are we breaking? This DVD isn't even available in Canada, or anywhere for that matter yet.

What a logical fallacy to assume that anyone who's previewed the movie now wouldn't support the cause by purchasing the movie when it comes out later, just like the fallacy that dropping CD sales imply music sales are plummeting.

Elsinore said...

Thank you for the links, Pawlina.

It is very important that the world knows what happened.

Pawlina said...

You're welcome, Elsinore. And thank you for your interest in this story.