Special Invitation Film

Magnitogorsk, Forging the New Man
Magnitogorsk, de jeugd van de hoogovens

1996 / The Netherlands / color / 60 min /16mm

Director, Script: Pieter Jan Smit
Camera: Peter Brugman
Sound: Gertjan Miedema
Editor: Teun Pfeil
Music: Sosan Shakerin
Narrator: Ton Lutz

Director's Statement

A huge lump of high-quality iron ore, a "Magnetic Mountain" in the barren steppes east of the Ural Mountains, was the impetus for the planning and construction of huge blast furnaces and steelworks at Magnitogorsk, an entire city for the workers.
Volunteers from all over Europe and America went there to participate in the construction, a showcase of the Soviet Union's First Five-Year Plan.
One of these enthusiasts was Joris Ivens. On behalf of the International Red Help Studio he made the documentary film Song of Heroes (1933) on the construction of the second blast furnace "Komsomolskaya" by volunteers of the Communist Youth. The idea of his film really struck me: that socialist man is created. In the process of socialist construction, "the bolsheviks create Magnitostroi Steelworks, Magnitostroi Steelworks create bosheviks."
I wanted to retrace the history of these men from the thirties. Who were they and what became of them?
I found out two things. First, that the story of Ivens's film is based on the life of an actual shock-worker. Second, that the steel factories were built mainly with forced labor. Tens of thousands were dispossessed, deported from their villages, and sent thousands of miles by cattle train to the construction site. These so-called Kulaks were living in camps within the compound. They were subjected to starvation, Siberian winters, and infectious diseases.
The film focusses on the thirties and on the future prospects of the people in that city now, through three generations of builders, shock-workers, and Kulaks alike.



COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee