KARAGANDA is more than a glimpse into a potent period of history. It's also a look into the dark side of our conscience. What happens when true friendship comes into conflict with other values like love or even survival? In a world where death is everywhere, what is one’s obligation to a friend or spouse, or is life just an eat-or-be-eaten jungle? These are the questions that I want to explore in KARAGANDA.
The first draft of this script was written while living in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2004 as I studied Russian and worked at LenFilm Studios. Over time the project became a feature trilogy. In 2012, while a first year student at the American Film Institute, I completed a cycle film THIEF IN LAW (18 mins., color) based on the modern day Vor v Zakonye. The project was a major success, though its release was limited to the AFI Conservatory only. In 2013, KARAGANDA (26 min., B&W) was realized as an AFI thesis film, overcoming budget and scheduling issues to make a film with Hollywood-level action and VFX. The awards and festival success made a feature version inevitable.
The feature version of KARAGANDA will be filmed in color, offering an authentic look at the Russian mafia in America, a force more powerful and more pervasive than any other criminal organization. With the Russian mafia familiar to Europe and the rest of world, the feature version of KARAGANDA promises to be a major success.