17 February 2017
Feature film Bitter Harvest a sad reminder for local Victorian Holodomor survivors
Set in early 1930s Ukraine amidst the horrific famine-genocide referred to as the Holodomor (death by starvation), the Australian premiere of historical drama Bitter Harvest is a painful but important reminder of their past for the few remaining Victorian-based survivors.
Today 99-year-old Fedir Habelko hasn’t forgotten the atrocities he witnessed as a child. He experienced first-hand Stalin’s ruthless mission to collectivise Ukrainian farms leading to forced starvation, breaking national pride in the process.
The ‘five ears of corn law’ enacted in August 1932 stated that anyone, including children, caught taking even a bit of produce from a collective field could be shot or imprisoned for stealing ‘socialist property.’
“In Odesa they farmed wheat for the European market. It was sold in Europe at the very lowest price. And in Ukraine, people were dying of starvation.” said Mr Habelko.
The Holodomor is a horrifying event in Ukraine’s history made all the more tragic by the fact it remains relatively unknown – a famine whose death toll is placed between 7–10 million people.
Although the film conjures painful memories for Mr Habelko, he is grateful that the story is finally being told through a mainstream platform.
“People should know about this horror that the Kremlin hid from the world for so long. Those memories haunt me to this day.” Mr Habelko said.
Bitter Harvest, a Canadian production shot on location in Ukraine, is a poignant love story featuring Max Irons (Woman in Gold), Samantha Barks (Les Miserables) and Terence Stamp (The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert).
The irony is not lost on Fedir Habelko, that the crux of the film’s story is as relevant today as it was almost 85 years ago, as the fight for a free Ukraine continues.
Bitter Harvest will screen in selected cinemas from 23 February 2017. Visit beckerfilmgroup.com for details.
The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) produced a short film of interviews with Australian Holodomor survivors for the 80 year commemoration in 2013:
FOR MORE INFORMATION: STEFAN ROMANIW 0419 531 255