Yuri is an artist living in Ukrainian Cossack family in the early 1930s. All seems well in the land; the people are free, well-fed - and Yuri himself has fallen in love with the beautiful Natalka whom he has known since he was a child. However, their lives are about to change forever with the new communist regime of Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin. Millions of people in agricultural areas of the USSR are left to starve to death as their harvest is confiscated by a ruthless government. It's a famine known as Holodomor which lasted between 1932 and 1933, and even when farmers try to move to more affluent areas, their travel is impeded by more official regulations. Together the people of Ukraine must band together to take back their country and their crops, and bring this cruel starvation episode to an end.
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But it is told, and by the survivors of a climb that holds you spellbound in the expectation of grave misfortune even as you know how it will turn out because its talking heads are the adventurers themselves. As the film progresses, you keep expecting a camera pullback to reveal lost limbs and paraplegic narrators.
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An album re-release, a new song and a documentary mark the singer's legacy this year.
The actor plays the titular hero in the forthcoming adaptation.