Maria Yatskova was born in Moscow and immigrated to the United States with her mother and grandmother at the age of five. She studied French and journalism in France and Belgium, and Film Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she wrote, directed, and produced "Rare Violins", a short 16mm documentary essay. Her love of classical music led her to working for the New York Philharmonic producing a series of short films for their web site and a longer piece about the great cellist and humanist Mstislav Rostropovich.
In 2004 Maria discovered an astonishing story about a prison beauty pageant in Siberia, and with this idea she decided to pursue independent documentary filmmaking full-time, making the feature documentary film Miss GULAG. Winning two highly competitive grants from the Ford Foundation and the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund for Miss GULAG, Maria also wrote an article about the prison camp in Siberia, titled Crime and Beauty which appeared in the September 2006 issue of Marie-Claire magazine, and provided part of the vision behind the film. An official selection of the Berlin International Film Festival, Miss GULAG has been to over twenty international film festivals around the world including AFI/Silverdocs, Seattle, Warsaw, Rio de Janeiro, Sheffield, and winning a Best Debut Feature Award for Ms. Yatskova at the Saratov International Film Festival in Russia. Currently Maria is in Baku, Azerbaijan, at work on a film about Azeri Centenarians with the CineAlliance Production Company. (01110)
Produced by Irina Vodar and Raphaela Neihausen, A film by Maria Yatskova, 2007, 62 min., Color
MISS GULAG is a rare look at the lives of the first generation of women to come of age in post-Soviet Russia, where women’s unemployment and incarcera...