This based on facts film tells a story of young Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who discovered the secret of the Great Famine in Ukraine. Stalin’s policy in the 1930s resulted in death by starvation of about 4-5 mln people, which was consistently denied by the communists. Jones’s investigation and subsequent publications not only brought the situation in Ukraine to the attention of the West, but they were also the source of inspiration for George Orwell’s "Animal Farm". However, the young journalist paid for his determination with his life, most likely at the hands of NKVD.
The picture is directed by Agnieszka Holland ("Europa, Europa", "In Darkness", "House of Cards"), one of the most world-renowned Polish directors. The script was written by Andrea Serdaru-Barbul, an American journalist of Ukrainian origin. Tomasz Naumiuk ("Amok”, "Being Like Deyna") is responsible for the cinematography. The production designer is Grzegorz Piątkowski ("Warsaw 44"), and the costume designer - Aleksandra Staszko ("Ida", "Demon").
"Apart from the tragedy of the Great Famine, the film shows the process of hiding the truth in the name of international political interests. Millions of people were dying out of hunger while Ukrainian cereals financed the construction of the communist empire. Our protagonist, Gareth Jones, stands alone to fight this lie, even for the price of his own life,” says Stanisław Dziedzic, the producer of the film.
The protagonists are played by James Norton ("War and Peace", "McMafia") as the eponymous journalist, Vanessa Kirby ("The Crown") and Peter Sarsgaard ("Garden State", "An Education"). The cast includes Polish actors: Michalina Olszańska, Beata Poźniak and Krzysztof Pieczyński.
The filming of "Gareth Jones" has begun in February in Ukraine. At the beginning of April, the crew moved to Poland. Up till now, several filming days took place in Śląsk (Silesia) and Małopolska; the locations included among others the socialist realist Zagłębie Palace of Culture in Dąbrowa Górnicza, the monumental modernist Silesia Province Office in Katowice, Dietel Palace in Sosnowiec, and Pyskowice.
In Kraków, the filming took place at Wielopole and Zyblikiewicza streets, which are lined with distinctive modernist tenement houses standing in for Moscow. In turn, the interior of Kraków City Hall and the spectacular interior of the Goetz Palace in Brzesko played the Russian embassy in London and a British gentlemen’s club.
“We are progressing according to the schedule, working in locations which fulfil our artistic expectations. The financial and logistic support which we have received from Małopolska, mainly from Kraków, was very important. The next production stage, in Silesia, is ahead of us, and we hope we will be equally satisfied. I have an impression that filmmakers are still relatively unfamiliar with Silesia, and the region has yet to surprise us in a very positive way,” summarizes Stanisław Dziedzic.
After filming in Silesia, the crew will spend a few days in Warsaw among others in the Polish National Opera and in a soundstage. After that, the crew will move to Scotland. The shooting will conclude in June.
"Gareth Jones" is a Polish-British-Ukrainian co-production. The main producer is FILM PRODUKCJA, a company that made such international co-productions as "Scaffolding" or "Ilegitim". The producers are Stanisław Dziedzic, Klaudia Śmieja and Andrea Serdaru-Barbul. The British co-producer is Angus Lamont from Crab Apple Films, the Ukrainian one is Egor Olesov from Film UA, and the Polish co-producers are Jacek Kulczycki and Magda Zimecka. The picture is co-funded by the Polish Film Institute, Krakow Festival Office, Creative Scotland, Ukrainian Film State Agency, ORKA, Kino Świat and FILM PRODUKCJA. WestEnd Films is the global distributor of "Gareth Jones", and the premiere is planned for 2019.