The year is 1933. Gareth Jones is an ambitious young Welsh journalist who is intrigued to find out how is the Soviet Union financing its rapid modernization. He travels to Moscow in an attempt to get an interview with Stalin himself.
Hearing murmurs of government-induced famine, a secret carefully guarded by the Soviet censors, Jones manages to elude the authorities and travels clandestinely to Ukraine, where he witnesses the atrocities of man-made starvation – millions left for dead as grain is sold abroad to finance the industrializing Soviet empire. Agnieszka Holland’s film recalls the legendary journalist who, despite fierce resistance, could not be dissuaded from telling the truth.
About the conversation
After the film, we engage in an in-depth conversation on the topic of Russian dominance in Central and Eastern Europe. The panel discusses Russian rule in the period of USSR, for Ukraine directly as it was a part of the USSR and for Poland through communism behind the Iron Curtain. How did these dark pages of their history influence the development of Poland and Ukraine today, and what is their view of contemporary Russia.
Looking East – Understanding Central Europe
About Amsterdam Polish Film Festival
This year the Amsterdam Polish Film Festival, organised by Polish Culture NL in collaboration with De Balie, focuses on the history and current developments in Central Europe, through films dealing with gruesome communist history and conversations shedding light on the impact of the Ukrainian war on the local population.
About the speakers
Barbara Malak-Minkiewicz – Polish researcher in social sciences and philosophy from the University of Warsaw. She focused her professional interest on the transformation processes in Central-Eastern European countries. Barbara was the spokesperson for Solidarność, the first independent trade union in a Warsaw Pact country to be recognized by the state, founded in August 1980 in Gdańsk, Poland. Solidarity’s leader Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and the union played a central role in the end of Communist rule in Poland. For her work for freedom in Poland, she was awarded the Officer’s Cross of Polonia Restituta by the Polish President in 2013.
Matt Steinglass – Europe correspondent of The Economist. Previously he wrote for the Boston Globe and a variety of other publications in West Africa and then in Vietnam. Before becoming a journalist, he spent several years as a website producer for startup companies and as a screenwriter of animated television shows for Disney and Nickelodeon. He studied Russian history and literature at Harvard and interactive telecommunications at New York University.
Anne-Lise Bobeldijk – Postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University and Research, where she participates in the NWA Heritages of Hunger project. Her current research project focuses on the (political) use and abuse of history and famine legacies in the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia. In her PhD research at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the University of Amsterdam, she analyzed the history and memories of violence before, during and after the Holocaust and World War II in Belarus.
Kateryna Kobchenko – Historian from Kyiv, Ukraine. She studied history at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (NTSU), where she also defended her dissertation and worked for a number of years – in the Centre of Ukrainian Studies on the Faculty of Philosophy. In 2020-2021 Kateryna Kobchenko was a member of the Project of Digital Interview-Collection “Forced Labour 1939-1945. Memory and History“ at the Freie Universität Berlin. K. Kobchenko is a member of the Austrian-Ukrainian Historical Commission and of the International Advisory Board of the Topography of Terror Foundation, Berlin.
Fadoua Alaoui – moderator and presenter. Worked as anchor of the daily morning show on the Dutch Caribbean channel “Nos Pais Television”. She had a wide range of clients in recent years, including the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Municipality of Amsterdam, the Municipality of The Hague, FNV, World Cinema Amsterdam and Cinekid.
The Amsterdam Polish Film Festival is co-sponsored by: