This film is my personal contribution to the Ukrainian independence referendum.
I wanted people to see what life was like in a colony, the inhabitants of which were mercilessly exploited in the name of a utopian ideology.
Famine-33 (Ukrainian: Голод-33, Holod-33) is a 1991 film by Oles Yanchuk about the Holodomor famine in Ukraine, and based on the novel The Yellow Prince by Vasyl Barka. The film is told through the lives of the Katrannyk family of six. It relies more on images than on words shot in black-and-white.
In an early scene, the members of an impoverished farming family solemnly take turns dipping their ladles into the single bowl of watery soup that is their only meal of the day. Later in the film, scores of villagers numb with despair and hunger huddle silently in the pouring rain outside a Government office until a truckload of armed soldiers arrives to disperse them. In the most poignant scene, a little boy who has lost his parents calls for his mother as he wanders, panic-stricken, through a snowy woodland where the trees are outnumbered by crosses marking the dead.
Film Shows Ukraine Famine
New York Times
“This film is my personal contribution to the Ukrainian independence referendum,” said Oles Yanchuk, who worked for two years to produce his first feature film on a subject that was until recently erased from Soviet history.
Called “Famine 33,” the film chronicles Stalin’s forced collectivization of agriculture and the famine it caused in 1933. More than seven million people in the central and eastern Ukraine died in the famine.
Shown through the eyes of a young boy, the film made its debut on republic-wide television today, on the eve of a referendum in which Ukrainians are expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence from the Soviet Union.
“I wanted people to see what life was like in a colony, the inhabitants of which were mercilessly exploited in the name of a utopian ideology,” Mr. Yanchuk said.
The Central Committee of the Ukrainian Communist Party only last year issued a resolution that officially admitted that the famine was caused by the seizure of crops. Previously, all accounts of the famine were either omitted from history books or referred to as a glorious triumph of Communism. Many Contributed Money
The 35-year-old Mr. Yanchuk said people throughout the Ukraine had donated a little over 400,000 rubles to help finance the film. Witnesses’ accounts of the famine were often enclosed with the contributions.
The idea for the film originated when Mr. Yanchuk read a screenplay on the famine written by the Ukrainian playwright Serhy Diachenko. “As soon as I read the screenplay, I knew this was a film that had to be made,” he recalled.
Others who helped in the writing of the film were Vasyl Barka, a Ukrainian emigre writer whose book, “The Yellow Prince,” has become the classic novel about the famine, and Les Taniuk, a former director of the Moscow Art Theater.
James Mace, staff director of the United States Commission on the Ukraine Famine, was visiting the Ukraine when he heard about Mr. Yanchuk’s plans to produce the film. He advised Mr. Yanchuk to go to the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute to find material he was denied access to in his own country’s archives. Eventually, Mr. Yanchuk was able to get into Ukrainian archives, but only after a long wait.
Working on the film was an emotionally wrenching experience for Mr. Yanchuk and his crew. The film was shot in regions that had experienced the famine in the 1930’s. Harrowing scenes from the film recreate the terror, fear and desperation of those years.
Mr. Yanchuk acknowledged that the film’s existence was evidence of how much the Ukraine has changed.
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