Agnieszka Holland's "Mr. Jones" Premieres In Main Competition At 69th Berlinale

“Mr. Jones”, the latest film by director Agnieszka Holland, will have its world premiere at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, screening in Main Competition. The film is co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.

A chance for the Golden Bear

Agnieszka Holland, many times appreciated at the Berlinale, will fight for the Golden Bear again. “Mr. Jones” will be presented in the Main Competition alongside new films by such acclaimed directors as Agnes Varda and Isabel Coixet. The film is based on the story of a young Welsh journalist who in the 1930s was one of the first to describe the Great Famine in Ukraine.


“Mr. Jones” (working title “Gareth Jones”) is Polish-British-Ukrainian co-production. The leading producer is Film Produkcja. The film’s producers are Andrea Serdaru-Barbul, Klaudia Śmieja and Stanisław Dziedzic. The co-producer on the Polish side is Studio Produkcyjne Orka, on the British side Crab Apple Films, and on the Ukrainian side, the company Film UA. The screenplay was written by Andrea Serdaru-Barbul, an American journalist of Ukrainian descent. The film was lensed by Tomasz Naumiuk. WestEnd Films is responsible for international sales and Kino Świat is the Polish distributor.

Starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard, the film also features Polish actors: Michalina Olszańska, Beata Poźniak and Krzysztof Pieczyński.

„Mr. Jones” is co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. The premiere of the film is planned in 2019.

“Mr. Jones”

In March 1933, Welsh journalist Gareth Jones takes a train from Moscow to Kharkov in the Ukraine. He disembarks at a small station and sets off on foot on a journey through the country where he experiences at first hand the horrors of a famine. Everywhere there are dead people, and everywhere he goes he meets henchmen of the Soviet secret service who are determined to prevent news about the catastrophe from getting out to the general public. Stalin’s forced collectivisation of agriculture has resulted in misery and ruin; the policy is tantamount to mass murder. Supported by Ada Brooks, a New York Times reporter, Jones succeeds in spreading the shocking news in the West, thereby putting his powerful rival, the Pulitzer Prize-winning, pro-Stalin journalist Walter Duranty, firmly in his place. 

Shot in Poland, Scotland and in original locations in the Ukraine, Agnieszka Holland’s film recalls the legendary journalist Gareth Jones (1905-1935) who, despite fierce resistance, could not be dissuaded from telling the truth. Jones’s encounter with the young George Orwell is said to have inspired the latter’s dystopian parable “Animal Farm” (1945).

Polish successes at the Berlinale

Last year’s Berlinale Main Competition lineup featured “Mug” by Małgorzata Szumowska, winning the Grand Prix Jury – Silver Bear. In 2017, “Pokot”, directed by  Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik, received the Silver Bear award of Alfred Bauer. In 2016 Main Competition lineup featured “United States of Love” by Tomasz Wasilewski, winning the Silver Bear Award for Best Screenplay.

At earlier editions of the festival, two films by Małgorzata Szumowska also screened in Main Competition: „In the Name Of…” in 2013, winning the Teddy Award and „Body” in 2015, winning the Silver Bear Award for Best Director. The 2015 Main Competition lineup also screened “Under the Electric Clouds”, a Russian-Ukrainian-Polish co-production directed by Aleksey German, jr. The film received the Silver Bear Award for Outstanding Artistic Contribution for camerawork by Evgeniy Privin and Sergey Mikhalchuk.

In 2011, the Main Competition lineup featured “The Prize”, a Mexican-French-German-Polish co-production directed by Paula Markovitch. The film received two Silver Bear Awards: for Best Cinematography (Wojciech Staroń) and Best Production Design (Barbara Enriquez).

Last year, the Silver Bear for the outstanding artistic contribution went to Elena Okopnaja – the set designer of the Russian-Polish-Serbian co-production of “Dovlatov” by Aleksey German, jr.

All awarded films were co-financed by the Polish Film Institute.

Based on information from the Film Commission Poland and Berlinale.