2011, colour / black & white, HD, 77'/58'
This film tells the story of one of the most incredible and, oddly enough, outside Russia relatively unknown events that took place in the Second World War: the blockade of Leningrad by the Germans. In september 1941, the three million inhabitants of the city were trapped like rats, without food or drinking water. In subzero temperatures people had to eat glue, leather soles, cats, and sometimes even their fellow human beings. When the city opened up again after almost three years, over a million people had died. The survivors were marked for life.
The blockade took place in a country where propaganda was more important than truth and where the falsification of history was the norm. Immediately after the war, every form of interest in the blockade was forbidden and from 1960 onwards the Communist propaganda machine pronounced the blockade to be the symbol of national heroism. In that way questions about Stalin’s war policy were avoided, a policy of which the military blunders took the toll of a great many extra lives. In the film, archive material is used from the Secret Service that was recently made public, in which coldly impersonal statistics show the extent of cannibalism in the city and the anger among the people towards their own authorities. It is all the more poignant that in present Russia the heroic version of this tragic history is again widely publicised.
In 900 DAYS some of the survivors speak openly for the first time in their lives about what they actually went through and about the post-war censorship. They still find talking about it very difficult. The myth about their heroic past which they have cherished for many years sometimes takes over from the cruel memories, so much more painful and so much blacker. All their lives they have been told they were heroes who guided their country towards victory, but more and more they are becoming aware that true recognition of their suffering and traumas is still far away, even after half a century.