Panorama | Special Presentations
Having previously earned acclaim with WWII dramas Europa Europa and In Darkness, Agnieszka Holland returns with another sweeping epic that’s grand in scale yet anchored dramatically by its compelling protagonist.
In the spring of 1933, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones (James Norton, Happy Valley) boards a train to Ukraine where he not only witnesses the ravages of a famine wrought by Stalin’s agricultural reform but also the Soviet secret service’s dogged efforts to ensure that news of this humanitarian crisis never sees the light of day. As he struggles to break the story to the world, Jones finds an ally in New York Times reporter Ada Brooks (Vanessa Kirby, The Crown) and an adversary in pro-Stalin journalist Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard).
It’s widely understood that it was Jones’ accounts of the dystopia he witnessed that later inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm. As envisioned by Holland, the reporter’s crucible is a testament to what humanity is capable of at either end of the spectrum. The horrific impact of the Holodomor famine (which claimed 10-million lives) is rightfully chilling to behold. And, yet, there’s considerable hope to be found in this rousing account of how principles and determination can deliver the truth to a world that desperately needs it.
"A bold and heartfelt movie with a real Lean-ian sweep… A picture with sinew and strength." - Peter Bradshaw, Guardian