WestEnd Films releases first exclusive still of Agnieszka Holland’s historical thriller GARETH JONES, starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard

• 08.05.2018

WestEnd Films releases a first exclusive still for Gareth Jones, a historical thriller directed by Academy Award-nominated Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, Spoor, In Darkness, House of Cards, The Wire).

The still features rising star James Norton (McMafia, War & Peace, Happy Valley) who plays the titular character. The film also stars Vanessa Kirby (The Crown, Me Before You, upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout) as Ada, a British journalist working in Moscow, and Golden Globe-nominee Peter Sarsgaard (Jackie, The Magnificent Seven, An Education) playing the New York Times’ Moscow Bureau Chief, Walter Duranty. Other cast members include Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) as George Orwell and Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent, Valkyrie) as Britain’s World War I Prime Minister, Lloyd George.


The film is inspired by the incredible untold story of Gareth Jones, an ambitious young Welsh journalist who travelled to the Soviet Union in 1933 and uncovered the truth behind the Soviet ‘utopia’ and Stalin’s regime. What was supposed to be a regular news investigation quickly turned into a life-or-death journey, influencing George Orwell’s famous allegory Animal Farm.

The film is produced by Polish company FILM PRODUKCJA with support from the Polish Film Institute, Kraków Film Commission, ORKA, Kino Świat, the Ukrainian State Film Agency and Creative Scotland. Stanislaw Dziedzic (Scaffolding by Matan Yair, Ilegitim by Adrian Sitaru, Chemo by Bartek Prokopowicz), Andrea Serdaru-Barbul (who also wrote the script) and Polish filmmaker Klaudia Smieja (Rams by Grímur Hákonarson, Les Innocents by Anne Fontaine, Park by Sophia Exarhou and upcoming High Life by Claire Denis) are producing. They are joined by Scottish producer Angus Lamont (’71 by Yann Demange, The Girl with All the Gifts by Colm McCarthy) of Boy Jones Films and Ukrainian producer Egor Olesov (Battle for Sevastopol, Under Electric Clouds, The Stronghold) of KINOROB, FILM.UA Group.


Crew members include composer Antoni Lazarkiewicz (In Darkness, Spoor), DoP Tomasz Naumiuk (Spoor), and production designer Grzegorz Piątkowski (City 44, Anatomy of Evil, Memory of Summer).

The film just finished shooting in Ukraine and in Poland, and will now move to Edinburgh, Scotland, where it will wrap up at the end of May. WestEnd will continue selling the film in Cannes.

Follow the news of the project at its official Facebook page.

Synopsis: 1933. Gareth Jones is a young ambitious Welsh journalist who gained fame after writing about meeting Hitler, and is now looking for his next big story. The Soviet “utopia” is all over the news, and he can’t help but wonder how Stalin is financing the rapid modernisation of the Soviet Union.

He decides to travel to Moscow in an attempt to get an interview with Stalin himself. There he meets Ada Brooks, a British journalist, who reveals that the true story about the regime is being violently repressed. Hearing murmurs of government-induced famine, a secret carefully kept by the Soviet censors, Gareth manages to elude the authorities and travels clandestinely to Ukraine, where he witnesses the atrocities of man-made starvations – millions left to starve – as all grain is sold abroad to finance the industrialising Soviet empire.

Back in London, Gareth publishes an article revealing the horrors he witnessed. But the starvations are quickly denied by Western journalists living in Moscow, all under pressure from the Kremlin. As death threats mount, Gareth has to fight for the truth. He meets a young author, a man by the name of George Orwell, who he shares his findings with…influencing the great allegorical novel Animal Farm.

Director: Agnieszka Holland

Producers: Klaudia Smieja, Stanislaw Dziedzic, Egor Olesov, Angus Lamont, Andrea Chalupa

Director of photography: Tomasz Naumiuk

Cast: James Norton, Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Mawle, Kenneth Cranham, Yakiv Tkachenko, Oleg Drach, Volodymyr Fedoruk, Anna Shaydyuk, Anastasia Chala, Alina Kovalska, and others

Scriptwriter: Andrea Chalupa

Costume director: Aleksandra Staszko

Production designer: Grzegorz Piatkowski

Music by: Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz

Release in Ukraine: 2019