Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Horrors of Holodomor

Imagine if a 20th century genocide that claimed more lives than the Holocaust had become, essentially, forgotten. That's the chilling context of Holodomor: Ukraine's Genocide, an upcoming feature documentary directed by Bobby Leigh and spearheaded by producer-writer Marta Tomkiw.

For ten years beginning in 1923, the Soviet totalitarian regime of Joseph Stalin indirectly massacred between seven and 10 million Ukrainians, including up to three million children, by confiscating all harvested grains and other foodstuffs in the territory's villages while preventing citizens from leaving. Many years later, a 2006 event organized by the Los Angeles Holodomor Committee brought this forgotten tragedy to the attention of Leigh, a music video veteran who has worked with Guns N' Roses, Joan Jett, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, KISS and many others. "Although I had fancied myself as a history buff," Leigh explains in his Director's Statement, "I had never before ever heard of a Holodomor or any Ukrainian genocide or famine... Much to my surprise, I later found out that no one I knew had ever heard of it either."

A nine-and-a-half minute short version of Holodomor has already made the festival rounds, screening from Monaco and London to New York City and Beverly Hills. For the 93-minute feature-length expansion, Leigh and Tomkiw whittled down some 89 hours of interview footage with survivors and historians.

The feature documentary is a meaningful career milestone for Tomkiw, a Detroit native of Ukrainian descent. As a longtime location manager, she has helped triangulate big-time Hollywood shoots such as Transformers, Million Dollar Baby, Hancock, The Soloist and 8 Mile.

[Holodomor: Ukraine's Genocide]

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