Film INTO OBLIVION visits the site of an unfinished railway in the inhospitable Russian taiga. Sixty years ago, thousands lost their lives here, but work was halted soon after Stalin’s death and today all that remains are rusting remains in the swamps. Eyewitness testimony is combined with a meditative boat trip and traces of asocial utopia.
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Films for the event
Mrtvá trať (Orig.) / 2011 / Czech Republic / 51 min
Stalin grasps a pencil in his hand as he prepares to draw a line on a map of the Soviet Union. Where the graphite touches paper, some 80,000 people - almost all of them gulag inmates - will build a railroad in the gruelling conditions of the polar taiga. It is a railway line of almost no strategic importance, built on permafrost and polar marshes, using limited technology and equipment. For four years, they will slave away, succumbing to exhaustion, illness, cruelty, and solitary confinement before, finally, the death of Stalin himself. In just a few weeks, there will be nothing left of their hectic activity except for empty camp barracks, old locomotives, bits of track, embankments, telegraph wires, all left to slowly return to the taiga.