Marcus Kolga and his Documentary “Gulag 113” at the Estonian National Museum on August 14, 2008

August 26, 2008

The Estonian National Museum hosted a meeting with the young Estonian-Canadian filmmaker Marcus Kolga in the framework of events dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. Kolga talked about the history of Estonia and the world as well as about exploring and documenting it. The audience was shown his documentary Gulag 113. The author of the film is Eduard Kolga, his grandson Marcus Kolga is the director and Rein Kotov is the director of photography.

Marcus Kolga is a graphic artist-designer and director of the media company Liefa Communications. He has made commercials and music videos, founded the weekly North American newspaper The Northern European and worked as its editor. In 2007 he won an international competition, organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and is now working on the building of a virtual museum of the crimes of communism together with two other Estonian-Canadians, Tarmo Saks and Paul Saumets. The virtual museum should be launched in 2008. The aim of the museum is to educate future generations about the history and legacy of communism, display its crimes and commemorate its victims. U.S. President George Bush is the honorary chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; late Estonian President Lennart Meri was also a member of its international board. On November 29, 2007, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip handed over in Washington Estonia’s contribution of $ 5000 or almost 53 000 EEK for the launching of the museum.

Gulag 113 retraces the life story of Eduard Kolga, an 89-year-old Estonian-Canadian, who managed to survive a Soviet labour camp. The film tells a particularly moving story about Eduard Kolga’s journey from Canada to those locations in the depth of Russia where he and millions other East Europeans went through a terrible ordeal sixty years ago. The film builds greatly on Kolga’s impressions of revisiting the former sites of the labour camps and his memories of his experiences – of slave labour and starvation at the hands of the Red Army. These memories are all too familiar to many Balts, Poles, Ukrainians, Finns and others who experienced similar hardships in Soviet labour camps during World War II. Skillfully chosen and photographed images, drawings, photos and historical maps illustrate the film.

Gulag 113 is Marcus Kolga’s first documentary. The film was produced by the Canadian Real World Pictures; the Estonian Allfilm also participated in the project. The film was financed by OMNI’s Independent Producers Initiative’s foundation of ethnocultural programs. It had its television première on Sept. 17, 2005, on Rogers OMNI TV 1 as part of its Language Documentary Series.

In 2007 the film won the Canadian Ethnic Media Association award in the documentaries category and the New York Festivals award in the historical documentaries category.

In 2008 Marcus Kolga made a documentary for the Rogers Media Television about the sinking of the German refugee ship Wilhelm Gustloff on the Baltic Sea in 1945.

Piret Noorhani