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Escape from Siberia

83 min   |   Ludovic Petho - Christian Popp |  2014     


YUZU Productions, DOCDAYS productions, Découpages, Arte GEIE

With the support of CNC and MEDIA Programme of the European Union


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Siberia is notorious for its hardship and extreme conditions. Long cold winters and short hot summers. Many communities cannot be reached by road. Siberia is an almost uninhabited area - 3 people per square kilometer. Siberia is inhospitable - and it always was.

Crossing it today is little different to 100 years ago when Lajos Petho escaped a Siberian POW camp to walk home to Budapest; it was more of a suicide mission than a flight to freedom.

A century later, French-Australian grandson Ludovic Petho walks in his grandfather’s footsteps in a year-long adventure to connect with a grandfather he never met. His walk through modern Siberia is more than an adventure, it is our window to the monumental events of WWI.

Lajos was one of 2 million prisoners held in Siberia during WWI, but one of very few men who chose freedom, no matter what the cost. Once on the road Lajos was a free man but on the run, often having to sleep outside in the bitter cold, desperate for food and fearful of the notorious Cossacks hunting down escapees. How did he survive? What obstacles did he face? Did he reach home on just luck?

For the contemporary trek, Ludovic will walk and hitch as his grandfather did, using the setting sun as his compass west to Budapest. In video diary style, he will mix adventure and detective work, as he searches for evidence of his grandfather and of other men who did the same.

Ludovic will spend time with locals as his grandfather did, helping them around the farm in exchange for food, shelter and rides. He also takes these opportunities to research local history that may reveal stories of men like Lajos passing through.

Lajos returned home in 1918 shortly before the end of WWI, his “Russian Promenade”, as he called it was over and he could rebuild his life.

Through the personal stories we will tell the big story that shaped these men’s lives, the Great War that sent them to Siberia and the Russian Revolution they walked through on their way home.

Ludovic will not only rely on historians expertise as he walks home, but by the guidance of diaries, artefacts, photographs and oral accounts that are shared by other families of escapees.

ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA is a mix of adventure and history and an unique opportunity to discover today’s Russia.

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