‘Mr Jones’ tells the true story of Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist who uncovered the 1933 Holodomor famine in Soviet Ukraine; his findings inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Polish-Ukrainian-British biographical thriller Mr. Jones, directed by the acclaimed Academy Award nominee Agnieszka Holland, is set to be screened at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on June 13. The screening of the film, which shines light on the devastating famine (‘Holodomor’) in which millions died in Soviet Union’s Ukrainian Republic in the early 1930s, is being organised by the Polish Institute New Delhi, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ukraine in India, and the British Council India. “We are excited to present the screening of Mr. Jones, which tells the story of a Welsh journalist uncovering a Soviet conspiracy. This event underscores the historical events that inspired George Orwell’s Animal Farm,” said Magdalena Filipczuk, Acting Director, Polish Institute New Delhi, in a statement.

Holland (75), best known for her political contributions to Polish cinema, began her career as an assistant to directors Krzysztof Zanussi and Andrzej Wajda, and emigrated to France shortly before the 1981 imposition of the martial law in Poland. Set in 1933, Mr. Jones (2019) follows the journey of Gareth Jones, an ambitious young Welsh journalist who gained fame for being the first foreign journalist to fly with Hitler. At the time, Jones was working as an advisor to Lloyd George, and his curiosity about the Soviet “utopia,” which was widely reported in the news, led him to seek his next big story: how Stalin was financing the rapid modernization of the Soviet Union.

The man-made famine in which millions died

Jones leaves his government role and travels to Moscow in an attempt to secure an interview with Stalin. There, he meets Ada Brooks, a British journalist who unveils the violent repression of the regime’s truths. Driven by murmurs of a government-induced famine, Jones manages to travel clandestinely to Ukrainian Republic, which was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union from 1922 until 1991. There, he witnesses the horrors of man-made devastating famine (‘Holodomor’) in which millions are left to starve to death as all grain is sold abroad to fund the industrializing Soviet empire.

James Norton delivers a compelling performance as Jones, portraying his determination, idealism, and unwavering pursuit of truth. After he is deported back to London, Jones struggles to get his findings published, facing resistance from powerful figures like Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and an apologist for Stalin’s regime, under the Kremlin’s pressure. As death threats mount, Jones fights to bring the truth to light. His findings and struggles eventually inspired Orwell to write the great allegorical novel Animal Farm.

The film’s stark and unflinching portrayal of the Holodomor is both harrowing and illuminating. It exposes the brutality of Stalin’s regime and the lengths to which it went to conceal the truth from the world. The film also raises important questions about the role of journalism in holding power to account and the responsibility of individuals to speak out against injustice. Holland’s direction is masterful; she creates a tense and suspenseful atmosphere that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. The film’s cinematography is also noteworthy; it captures the bleakness of the Ukrainian landscape and the desperation of its people.

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