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In the early 1930s, Joseph Stalin enforces a famine in the major grain-producing areas of the Soviet Ukraine, which becomes known as the Holodomor. Millions die, predominantly ethnic Ukrainians, sacrificed in order to meet the territorial ambitions of the burgeoning Soviet Union. Yuri (Max Irons) is a young artist, whose Cossack family becomes embroiled in the famine along with the family of his lover, Natalka (Samantha Barks). Yuri fights with all of the strength he can muster to save the people he loves and he is punished for his defiance and bravery. Eventually, he joins the anti-Bolshevik resistance and reunites with his beloved Natalka to begin the slow and painful process of securing his country's independence.