Movie review: ‘Bitter Harvest’ tells little-known story of Soviet atrocity (Ukrainian Holodomor Genocide)
Not many people are familiar with the word “Holodomor.” Not in the same way that we’re familiar with the word “Holocaust.” But a genocide is a genocide, even when kept secret. The truth is that up to 10 million Ukrainians died in a man-made famine in 1932-1933 under Josef Stalin’s singular brand of Communist fascism: He crushed Ukrainian resistance and attempts at independence by demanding every last speck of grain from “The Bread Basket of Europe” and denying foreign aid. The regime claimed the deaths were caused by “malnutrition,” and the truth about the Holodomor wasn’t known until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2003, it was finally acknowledged by the United Nations.
Written, directed and produced by descendants of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada, “Bitter Harvest” sheds new light on this underreported genocide - there have only been a couple of films made about the Holodomor. Shot on location in Ukraine right before the 2013 rebellion in Maidan Square, “Bitter Harvest” is a heartfelt family drama and stirring love story set against political machinations and crushing oppression.
Max Irons (son of the English actor Jeremy Irons) stars as Yuri, a romantic young man from a rural village who wants nothing more than to make art and marry Natalka (Samantha Barks), the young woman he’s loved since childhood. He’s torn between city life in Kiev, where the Communist party seeks brilliant young minds, and the increasing pressure at home, where farmers are being forced to collectivize by the brutal Commissar Sergei (Tamer Hassan). After escaping violence, imprisonment, uprisings and starvation, Yuri the artist becomes Yuri the fighter, living up to the legacy of his grandfather Ivan (Terence Stamp) and father Yaroslav (Barry Pepper).
It doesn’t seem like this movie is entertaining enough for the professional movie reviewers but this sounds like an interesting, independently produced from Hollywood historical film, especially since it covers a period of history that does not receive any coverage from popular culture and Media.
‘Bitter Harvest’ is being released in movie theaters February 24th.