Please read this piece by my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in Defining Ideas
The December 17 Oscar short-listing of Marianna Yarovskaya’s Women of the Gulag in the documentary-short category created a stir in the world-wide Russian intellectual community. Yarovskaya, a dual citizen and a graduate of both Moscow University and USC, is the first Russian woman to be so short-listed since the founding of the Russian Federation. While official Russian media limited coverage to a brief announcement on the Kultura channel, Russia’s small liberal media celebrated.
Hopes for a historic Russian Oscar were elevated when Hollywood’s seven top gurus all predicted nomination. When Women of the Gulag fell short of a nomination, social media redirected to a discussion of Hollywood’s silence on Stalin’s genocides, which are among the worst in modern history. (By “Hollywood,” I mean L.A.’s international film community).
In the sometimes-heated online exchanges that followed, “Andrew” explained Hollywood’s leniency towards Stalin as the choice of the lesser evil—Stalin over Hitler—made back during World War 2. “Tatyana” opined that Stalin’s terror is an “internal” matter. Hitler started a world war. Stalin did not. “Yulia” ventured that Hollywood’s political inclinations prompt it to ignore the crimes of communist regimes, be they Stalin, Mao, or Fidel. In contrast to its reticence on communism, Hollywood has provided extensive coverage of the crimes of fascist regimes. (A notable exception is “The Killing Fields,” set in Pol Pot’s Cambodia with seven Oscar nominations and three wins.)