The Children of 1917
Exploring the last century of Russian history though the words and lives of Russians born 100 years ago, in 1917.
One hundred years ago, in 1917, Russia was wracked by revolution, famine, foreign war, and domestic unrest. Indeed, the events that unfolded in Russia that year changed the course of twentieth century history.
And yet, throughout 1917, babies were born, lives were started.
This book and movie project, dubbed The Children of 1917, will send its creators throughout Russia in search of the people those babies have become – to capture the life stories of individuals born in the Russian Empire in 1917.
The Children of 1917 will offer an amazing journey through time, in which together we will learn about the lives of some remarkable survivors: Russians who not only were born in that tumultuous 1917, but who then lived through Civil War, industrialization, collectivization, Stalinism, World War II, the Cold War, Khrushchev, the era of Stagnation, the collapse of the USSR, and the turn of the twenty-first Century.
Despite all the horrors and difficulties, they grew up, fell in love, created families, raised children of their own. Now they are 100 years old, and we cannot wait to hear the stories they and their family members have to share with us, so that we can share them with you.
But we cannot delay! The time to capture the living memories of Russia’s centenarians is now.
Why Should You Care?
The singer Rosanne Cash once said, "God gave each of us a different story, hoping we'd talk to each other." And it is a widely-accepted maxim that by hearing another person's story, connecting with their life, one's own life is made richer.
The stories that Russian centenarians have to share will give us a better understanding and appreciation for overcoming hardship and embracing the good times. They will help us better understand Russian history and culture, and give us a deeper, more satisfying appreciation of the diversity of humanity.
As with our first collaboration, this project's objective is to create a beautiful book with text and color photography. Yet we are also kick[start]ing things up a notch: we will create a documentary film so you can see and hear these amazing centenarians directly, as we did.
In both products, we will mix the centenarians’ words with stories, portraits, and images of their families, homes, and towns. You will come away with a very tangible, personal sense of what the past century has been like for people throughout the world’s largest country – the country that changed history through the events of 1917.
As collaborator Mikhail Mordasov noted as we were strategizing about this project: "What happened 100 years ago may seem like some sort of distant past filled with all but forgotten people. Yet it is a part of who we are. The fates of our ancestors define our present and even influence the futures of our children."
This is a huge and daunting project. It will require more time, more travel, and be more costly than any of our four previously successful Kickstarter projects. But we feel confident that, with the support of Russophiles from all over the world, we can pull it off.
As with past projects, there are some cool ways you can be involved, in addition to backing us! We will have an active, members-only blog, where we will share stories, videos, images, and more from before, during, and after the trip. And if you pledge at certain higher levels, you can even influence where we travel, plus get a call out on those pages of the book that deal with your city, and you can get free tickets to the Moscow or Montpelier premiere of the movie (sorry, travel costs not covered).
All backers will be credited on the project website, and at the back of the book or movie if their respective support level specifies that (see grid, below). Top supporters (Producers) will also be credited at the front of the book and/or movie, based on their level of support.
As part of Kickstarter's Make 100 initiative in January, we are offering two reward levels that are limited to just 100 backers: the $59 Early Bird and the $99 Co-Pilot (Limited Edition).
Check out all the rewards on offer, and we hope you will join us on this exciting journey through time.
– Paul Richardson and Mikhail Mordasov
STRETCH GOAL 1: HARDCOVER
The baseline budget has us creating a limited edition color book that is softcover. If we can reach the stretch goal of $50,000, we will upgrade the book to hardcover.
STRETCH GOAL 2: DVD
The film will be edited, subtitled, and released for international viewing via a streaming service. But if we can reach a second stretch goal of $60,000, we will also produce a beautifully packaged DVD with copies sent to all those at the Co-Pilot level and above.
Risks and challenges
As we wrote for the Spine of Russia: This is Russia. The risks travel in packs here.
Visas could be denied, routes banned, roads unpassable. There will be road police demanding bribes, mechanics demanding surcharges, potholes demanding to be noticed, or else.
The only defense we have against these and countless other unimaginable but entirely plausible scenarios (bears? wolves?) is 40+ years of combined experience traveling in and about Russia. We know how and when to be flexible, when to turn aside, and when to charge forward.
We may not get the stories we expect are out there to be gotten, but we will come back with compelling stories, and the photography and cinematography will be brilliant.
And, because we will be providing backers with frequent online updates, you will be there with us to watch it all unfold.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)