Director Agnieszka Holland returns to English language filmmaking with her latest, Gareth Jones, a British-Polish-Ukrainian co-production. The ever busy Holland, who has worked on multiple television projects over the past decade, hasn’t presented an English language feature since 2006’s Copying Beethoven. Her latest is produced by the film’s scribe Andrea Serdaru-Barbul along with Klaudia Smieja and Stanislaw Dziedzic of Film Produkcja, Angus Lamont of Crab Apple Films, and Egor Olesov of Kinorob. James Norton stars as Jones, with a supporting cast including Peter Sarsgaard, Vanessa Kirby and Joseph Mawle. Polish DP Tomasz Naumiuk (recently of Claire Denis’ High Life) lensed the film. Holland is perhaps best known for a handful of Academy Award nominated titles, including 1990’s Europa Europa (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay), 1985’s Angry Harvest (the West German entry for Best Foreign Language Film) and 2011’s In Darkness (Poland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film), as well as a string of English language films in the 1990s, including The Secret Garden (1992) with Maggie Smith and Total Eclipse (1995) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Holland competed twice in Venice, with 1992’s Olivier, Olivier and 2002’s Just Walking Home. In Berlin, Holland has also competed twice, with 1981’s Goraczka (History of One Bullett) and 2017’s Spoor (read review), which won her the Alfred Bauer Award.
Gist: Serdaru-Barbul’s screenplay documents the travails of the titular Welsh journalist who set off to Moscow to interview Joseph Stalin and was tipped off by fellow reported Ada Brooks about oppressive Soviet policies towards the Ukraine, which allowed him to follow a trail which would lead him to witness the Holodomor. Upon reporting on the atrocity in the UK, Jones is contested by Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty. Jones’ crusade also leads him to George Orwell, which lead the famed author to pen the seminal Animal Farm.
Release Date/Prediction: Holland completed filming on Gareth Jones in May of 2018 after three distinct periods/locations in Poland, Ukraine, and the UK. Timing would suggest she be invited back to Berlin for her third time in competition.