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