Agnieszka Holland shooting Gareth Jones
by Ola Salwa
- The long-awaited drama about the titular journalist reporting on the Holodomor is being filmed in Ukraine, Poland and the UK
The titular, real-life protagonist of Gareth Jones, the new film by Agnieszka Holland, is a Welsh journalist who sets off to Moscow in order to interview Joseph Stalin. While in Russia, he is tipped off by a fellow reporter, Ada Brooks, about the Soviets’ oppressive policies towards Ukraine. Jones changes the final destination of his journey and witnesses the atrocities of the Holodomor, a famine-genocide inflicted by Stalin on Ukraine. Back in the UK, he reports on the tragedy, which is soon denied by an influential Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, who trusts the Soviet propaganda. Jones, fighting for the truth, meets young writer George Orwell and inadvertently inspires him to write Animal Farm.
Director Holland, recently interviewed by Variety, said: “Nobody wanted to shed light on Stalin’s atrocities, which Gareth exposed. Today, we don’t lack corruptible conformists and egoists; we lack Orwells and Joneses. That is why we should bring them back to life.”
The script was written by Andrea Serdaru-Barbul (who also has a producer credit); the other producers are Klaudia Śmieja and Stanisław Dziedzic of Film Produkcja (Poland), Angus Lamont of Crab Apple Films (UK), and Egor Olesov of Kinorob (Ukraine). The film has received financial support from the Polish Film Institute and the Ukrainian State Film Agency, and the main cast includes James Norton and Vanessa Kirby. The shooting period has been divided into several tranches, and will take place in Poland, Ukraine and the UK. The crew has already finished two days of shooting on location in Poland in February, and will return there in April. The Ukrainian portion of the shoot started on 3 March and will wrap by the end of the month. The dates of the final shoot in the UK are not confirmed, but the end of the filming period is slated for late May 2018. World sales of Gareth Jones are being handled by WestEnd Films.
Incidentally, Agnieszka Holland is also working on the first Polish Netflix series, a dystopian thriller called 1983.
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