Anna Larina was the young bride of Nikolai Bukharin, one of the top leaders in the early years of the Russian Revolution. This documentary is based on her memorable autobiography, “This I Cannot Forget,” which she wrote late in life, after being imprisoned for almost twenty years in the Russian Gulag. Larina recounts her life story, which is interwoven with extraordinary archival film and interviews.
Larina grew up during the 1917 October Revolution, from which imperial Russia emerged as the Communist Soviet Union. She recalls Lenin, Stalin, and other leading personalities of that era. She recounts her love affair and marriage with Bukharin, which ended with his arrest in 1937, during Stalin’s Great Terror. Shortly thereafter, she was arrested, sent to Astrakhan Prison and later to the notorious Siberian gulag camps, where she spent twenty years. From the camps, she followed Stalin’s notorious show trials as closely as she could, as the Communist Party’s ideals and hopes for reform were crushed. Bukharin, her husband, was executed after the trials.

Anna Larina

Photograph by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Decades later in 1992, when Stalin’s personal archives were opened, Bukharin’s books, philosophical treatises, poetry and a novel were discovered. One manuscript, “How It All Began,” was published around the world. Upon Stalin’s death in 1956, Larina was released from the camps.

Due to Larina’s efforts, Bukharin’s reputation was posthumously rehabilitated in 1988 by the Russian government when Gorbachev felt the need to show that there had been an alternative to the Stalinist legacy. The Russian scholar, Stephen F. Cohen, who narrates this documentary, became a close friend of this exceptionally courageous woman.

 

“…a moving profile…suggested for both serious students of Russian history and biography buffs.”

– Booklist

 

“an informative historical documentary…a compelling story told here with archival footage, photos, and Larina’s own recollections and commentary…”

– Cineaste

 

Film Festivals:

Doubletake Film Festival, 2001
Gold Medal, World Media Festival, Hamburg, 2001
Hot Springs Documentary Film festival, 2001

 

 

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