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Roadside Attractions has acquired the U.S. rights to romance-drama “Bitter Harvest,” starring Max Irons and Samantha Barks for a first-quarter release.

George Mendeluk directed from a script he co-wrote with Richard Bachynsky-Hoover, focused on two lovers caught in Joseph Stalin’s effort to starve the Ukrainian people in 1932-33, also known as the Holodomor. Barry Pepper, Tamer Hassan and Terence Stamp also star.

The film is produced by Ian Ihnatowycz, Stuart Baird, Mendeluk, Chad Barager and Jaye Gazeley. Ihnatowycz’ family survived the period and left for the U.S. in the 1940s. Dennis Davidson, Peter D. Graves and William J. Immerman serve as executive producers.

“We loved that George and Richard wrote a story about a period of history that many people really don’t know about,” said Roadside’s Howard Cohen and Eric D’Arbeloff. “In partnering with Ian, who has such personal ties to the story, they were able to make the film as authentic as possible. We’re thrilled to help bring this film that holds so much relevance today to the U.S. audience.”

Ihnatowycz said in a statement, “I am so happy to entrust ‘Bitter Harvest,’ my first and very ambitious foray into film making, to Howard and Eric. The film evokes huge emotions as it brings to life an extraordinary period of history. Their understanding of that was paramount to me in choosing Roadside as our domestic distributor.”

Irons starred in “Woman in Gold” and Barks starred in “Les Miserables.”

The deal was negotiated by Lawrence Meyers and attorney William J. Immerman on behalf of the filmmakers and Howard Cohen and attorney Greg Bernstein on behalf of Roadside Attractions.