"The Living"  Sergiy Bukovsky, 2008 Holodomor film
http://www.theliving.org.ua/en/  Website with trailer and photos

International Charitable Fund “Ukraine 3000”  presents a documentary film “The Living” directed by Sergiy Bukovsky.

 The characters of the film were children when everything was taken away from their parents. This film tells the story of how they survived the Great Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) of 1932-33.  It also tells the story of British journalist Gareth Jones, whose truthful reports about the Ukrainian tragedy were never heard in the West. How did so many countries show such indifference to other people’s suffering? And how does an agricultural society rise back to its feet and become master of its own land? Only the living can rise again. 

http://www.garethjones.org/living_review.htm  Review by M. Siriol Colley

The film Documentary, The Living covers the tragic period of history in Ukraine from 1932 -1933 with delicacy, gentle humour and sympathy. The film is based on the observations of Gareth Jones, a young Welsh journalist, and through it is woven the candid accounts, casually caught in the camera, of witnesses, now well into their 80’s who survived the Great Famine. The naturalness of their evidence, some given with humour, lightens the sadness of the production.  The lines on their care-worn faces are captured beautifully by the camera and these display the evidence of a harsh and bitter life. The suffering they saw of death, of the appropriation of their food and destruction of their homes is beyond belief.  Despite this many have remained cheerful. Life remains hard for the peasants for they still live in humble circumstances, but, though poor they seem content with their present lot.


Gareth, on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, was tragically murdered after being captured by bandits in 1935, two years later, while investigating the Japanese situation in Inner Mongolia.  He had had a remarkable and extremely full life before his premature death.  Shots are taken from archival material carefully and patiently researched reminding the viewer that he had worked for the former wartime Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, that he had been a spectator to the Depression in the 1930’s in America, and prophetically described, that of his flight with the newly appointed Chancellor of Germany, Adolph Hitler. Lighter touches are photos of Gareth’s student days and of him standing behind President Hoover in the White House. As well there are archival shots presumably from Soviet sources of a propaganda nature.

The film commences quietly with President Yushchenko walking pensively with his daughter across barren land looking at the site of his forbears burial places; those who died in the Great Famine. It ends with an emptiness left by the disappearance of the last eyewitnesses implying that there will soon be no one left to recall the horrors of the Holodomor, the death by starvation.

I myself am delighted by the portrayal of my uncle Gareth.  Just as the Holodomor was the forgotten man-made famine of the 20th century, so was Gareth quietly air-brushed from that period of history.

The whole film has been filmed and condensed from a vast amount of material, both archival and verbal by the brilliance of the director, Serhiy Bukovsky into one and a quarter hour. Serhiy has put his heart and soul into the production. Mark Edwards, the producer, with exceptional thoroughness has been true in every way, both in his portrayal of the man and the description of Gareth’s colourful life.  I know Mark is captivated by the sad, but enthralling story of Gareth Jones’ brief life.

It was my desire to have Gareth recognized in his beloved country, Wales.  To my astonishment, but delight he is revered in Ukraine and soon, I hope will be known in the United States. The film has achieved my ambition and also Nigel’s. Perhaps one day his fame will be world-wide.

Thank you Serhiy Bukovsky, Victoria Bodnar and Mark Edwards for making this possible.  To me it is the fruition of our long aspiration to have Gareth remembered.

To see the main 'The Living' web page on this site Click Here

http://www.garethjones.org/bukovsky_living_kyiv_premiere.htm  21Nov2008 Kyiv Premiere

Visons du Réel Films, Nyon: ”The Living” Nyon Film Festival 2009, 27Apr2009, Jared Bloch

Sergiy Bukovsky’s, “The Living,” is a 75 minute indictment of the methodological impoverishment and starvation imposed on Ukrainian “kulaks” by the Soviet State in the 1930’s.

The film presents a chronological accounting, via diplomatic letters, of the excruciatingly purposeful suffering inflicted on Ukranian peasants, in the form of farm collectivization.

The anger and sadness in the faces of those who lived through this tragedy is almost unbearable to look at as they describe in minute detail their ordeal. “I’m afraid to think about, let alone remember those times,” one interviewee tells the camera.

Bukovsky’s narrative tends towards dry in its presenation of historical letters, however the film is well worth seeing if only to appreciate the cache of historical memory provided through first hand accounts from what must be octogenarian Ukrainian citizens.

For further information on this and other Stalinist era “purges”, see Martin Amis’ book, “Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million“. See also,Current Politics in Ukraine Website.