Nov 24, 2009

The Story Of A Welsh-Russian Town Hughesovka - Multi-Media Package

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Thursday 26 November sees the Cardiff launch of Y Lolfa’s first book-DVD package, at Womanby Street’s bar, Y Fuwch Goch. Multi-prize-winning TV documentary film maker Colin Thomas’ awards include three from BAFTA Cymru, as well as the Prix Europa, the Gold Award at Houston International Film Festival, and the Jury Award at the Celtic Film and TV Festival. Now for the first time, his documentary Hughesovka and the New Russia, presented by Professor Gwyn Alf Williams, is available to keep. First transmitted in English to the UK network on BBC2 in 1991, the three-part series won BAFTA Cymru’s inaugural Best Documentary Award of that year. The DVD is published together with Colin Thomas’ first book, Dreaming a City: From Wales to Ukraine, which brings the story of Hughesovka, the town established by Welsh people in Ukraine, up to the present day.

Colin Thomas and Gwyn Alf Williams had a long and productive working relationship respectively as film producer and presenter, mainly on popular Welsh history programmes such as The Dragon has Two Tongues, made by the co-operative company Teliesyn. But they also formed a strong friendship, and this honest account of the bonds – and occasional blow-ups – of this creative relationship in television from 1981 to the Professor’s death in 1995, make Dreaming a City a fitting tribute to a fine historian and well-loved figure.

Author Colin Thomas said,

"I have always thought that what happened to the city founded by John Hughes and his Welsh workers told a much bigger story. But I have been surprised to discover, in writing a book about a place that has fascinated me for years, the degree of personal revelation involved. I have found myself exploring my own hopes for a better world. For many years I shared some of those dreams with the late great Prof Gwyn Williams and I'm delighted that this book/DVD package will form a tribute to Professor Williams, as well as bringing the Hughesovka story bang up to date."

Both DVD and book tell the remarkable tale of a city created in the 1870s by Welsh capitalist John Hughes and his team of seventy Welsh miners and steelworkers. Its transition from Hughesovka in Russia, to Stalino in the Soviet Union, and then to Donetsk in the newly-independent Ukrainian nation, is a story of Russia, Ukraine and the Soviet Union in microcosm. Dreaming a City traces the town’s growth from patriarchal beginnings through the Russian revolutions, Bolshevism, Stalinism, Nazi occupation and the collapse of Communism, Nineties rising Ukraine nationalism, to Ukraine post-independence in the present market economy. Partly a revisiting of the making of the television series Hughesovka and the New Russia, this book is Russian and Welsh social and political history; travel journalism, and a tribute to Welsh historian Gwyn Alf Williams, as well as being a personal memoir of a life in TV and history. Above all, though, it explores the tensions between a belief in social change and the danger implicit in utopian visions.

Extracts from Hughesovka and the New Russia will be shown at the launch, which commences at 7.30pm at Y Fuwch Goch/The Red Cow, Womanby St, Cardiff. The book/DVD package is available at good bookshops and from amazon, gwales and

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