The Sibirian camp UF-91/9 is a prison for female offenders. ‘Coming here is a tragedy’, says one of these inmates, ‘depression on all sides. I think a woman should always be beautiful. Not just outside the fence. Even if she’s in here she should show her beauty. She shouldn’t hide it in these walls.’ The beauty of the women at camp UF-91/9 does indeed come into its own - at a fashion show that is at the centre of Maria Yatskova’s film. Once a year, the prisoners put on a show for their fellow-inmates of their own creations and made-to-measure designs. The show usually marks the first time they have ever put a foot on a catwalk in their lives. Yet the fashion show is merely a pretext for the real film. The director uses the preparation of the event and the show itself to conduct in-depth conversations with three young women - Julia, Tatiana and Natalia - who have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment at the camp. This documentary portrait is also a story about the first generation of women to have come of age in post-Soviet Russia.
Maria Yatskova was born in Moscow in 1976 and immigrated to the US five years later. She studied journalism in France and Belgium and film at the New School for Social Research in New York. Maria's engagement with Russian history began with her feature essay for the Associated Press surrounding the controversial remains of Russia's last Czar, which appeared in the LA Times. Miss Gulag is Yatskova’s directorial debut.
2007, 65', color, video
Maria Yatskova, Irina Vodar
Stephen Ovenden, Peter Kinoy
Raphaela Neihausen, Irina Vodar
Debut Feature Film