Reflections on Documentary Genocide Revealed
By Tetiana Branitska
Toronto - Prior to Ukraine’s independence, the subject of the Great Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933, now known as the Holodomor, was not a part of public discourse. In 1983, Yurij Luhovy co-produced and edited a documentary entitled “Harvest of Despair” which became one of the earliest investigations of the reasons behind the famine. This opened a Pandora’s Box of reasons for the famine to the public. “Genocide Revealed”, produced, directed and edited by Yurij Luhovy, is an investigation of exceptional value that incorporates in-depth research and artistic design to deliver the author’s argument. This argument is that the Holodomor was not an accidental occurrence, but a planned operation that served geopolitical ambitions of the Soviet state leaders.
I believe that “Genocide Revealed” is an outstanding documentary and all the international awards it has won are well-deserved. Unlike other pieces on the Holodomor, “Genocide Revealed” provides a complex approach and includes document analysis, expert opinions, and, most importantly, interviews with survivors to present solid grounds for the author’s thesis. A vast selection of archival material intertwines with the voices of those who have either lived through or studied the Holodomor to present one firm message that the famine was not “God’s doing”. This multifactor approach is what makes this documentary film one of exceptional value.
It is important not only to know about the terrors of the Holodomor and the grand project that it was a part of, but the means through which it was carried out. As stated in “Genocide Revealed”, the famine “project managers” relied heavily on separate individuals who would carry out the task on the spot. So, I believe that there is more to the discussion and conclusions regarding the Holodomor. On the one hand, it was a huge human tragedy. It came as a war, unannounced, and took millions of lives. On the other hand, it shows the nature of the Soviet State and the means its leadership used to reach its goals. One of the main goals and consequence of the famine was the disintegration of the community. Ukrainian villages have always had strong communities and only through distrust and marginal life conditions could that system be ruined. The loss of trust towards one’s community made the people rely on and give their loyalty to the State. This way, good neighbours and relatives turned into “comrades”, a faceless mass of plankton that glorified its prosecutors. Hence, the major consequence being that the people lost the sense that together they can fight for and achieve their common goals.
However, this consequence of the famine does not limit itself only to Soviet times. Even today, distrust and different loyalties cause difficulties in Ukraine’s development. One more lesson Ukrainians can learn from the Holodomor is that “united we stand”.
I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to filmmaker Yurij Luhovy and his team for making this amazing, artful, and very insightful documentary.
For further information about the feature documentary “Genocide Revealed” and its Educational Release version, contact www.yluhovy.com
Tetiana Branitska’s family suffered through the Holodomor. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor Famine-Genocide in Ukraine 1932-1933.
Yurij Luhovy filming Genocide Revealed in Kyiv.