The Babushkas of Chernobyl
journeys into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone several decades after the world’s worst nuclear disaster in April 1986. The tightly regulated 1000 square mile Dead Zone remains one of the most radioactively contaminated places on Earth, complete with military border guards.
Surprisingly, a defiant, spirited group of elderly women scratches out an existence in this lethal landscape. The resilient babushkas are the last survivors of a small community who refused to leave their ancestral homes after the Chernobyl disaster.
The film follows the women for over a year, capturing their unusual lives in the Dead Zone, as well as other extraordinary scenes -- from radiation spikes just a few feet from the nuclear reactor, to a group of thrill-seekers called “Stalkers” who sneak into the Zone illegally to pursue post-apocalyptic video game-inspired fantasies.
Scientists in the area describe the extent of contamination in the Exclusion Zone and the continuing danger of radiation poisoning. Journalist Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl
, studies the long-term impacts on humans, animals, and plants. A visit to the reactor itself shows a containment sarcophagus under construction, which will need to last longer than the pyramids in Egypt to prevent further radiation releases.
While the babushkas' spirit mirrors the determination of the Ukrainian nation – a country that continues to survive despite its ongoing conflict with Russia – it remains unlikely Chernobyl will be repopulated anytime in the foreseeable future
FILMMAKER AVAILABLE FOR SCREENINGS
Filmmaker Holly Morris who spent 3 years filming in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is available for speaking engagements with the film. Please Inquire
Preview link available upon request. Contact [email protected] for more information
Reviews and FestivalsBOOKLIST TOP 10 EDITOR'S CHOICE FOR 2016
"Starred Review. This award-winning documentary captures a land that time forgot and the world has avoided."
“Stirring....A fascinating portrait of the exclusion zone, with its strange, eclectic cast of characters. At the center of it all are the babushkas themselves.”
— New York Times, Women In The World
“A haunting and provocative movie, powerful and poignant and, frankly, unforgettable. There are few more inhospitable or infamous places on Earth than Chernobyl.”
— Chicago Tribune
"A beautiful film...Captures the subtleties and uncertainties of Chernobyl and, moreover, the resilience of the human soul.”
— George Johnson, New York Times
“Delivers a haunting sociological study. The primary health concern is apparently thyroid cancer, with one of the women having had to get hers removed a few years after the nuclear incident.”
— The Hollywood Reporter
“Potent, immersive....incredible depth and access.”
— Indie Wire
"A touching reflection on aging, friendship, 'home,' historical memory, and nature...With a welcome light touch, The Babushkas of Chernobyl intervenes in several scholarly and popular conversations about the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the politics and risks of nuclear energy...Prompts the viewer to ask important questions about nature, risk, place, aging, and personhood."
— Slavic Review
"Highly Recommended. A fine complement to Russian studies, women’s studies, general science, sociology, and health studies courses.”
— Educational Media Reviews Online
"A kindly portrayal of a small group of women spread across the Zone, persevering in the face of rural poverty, government indifference, and a largely lonely, solitary existence."
— The Russian Review
"A haunting portrayal of the will to survive in one's homeland and the effort to make surroundings livable, starkly contrasted with the destruction from the explosion and the rotting corpses of equipment, buildings, and other components of the civilization once there...Useful in social science, geography, and ecology courses."
— Science Books and Films
"Highly Recommended. An extraordinary portrait of resilience in the face of calamity"
— Video Librarian
"Starred Review. A fascinating example of resilience."
— Library Journal
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Best Documentary
Salem Film Festival, Audience Award, Best Documentary / Special Jury Award
Los Angeles Film Festival, Special Jury Honor Award, Directing
Woodstock Film Festival, Special Jury Award, Documentary / Best Editing
Sun Valley Film Festival, One In a Million Award
OFFICIAL SELECTION (Partial List)
DC Environmental Film Festival
Florida Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival, Women in Film
Olympia Film Festival
Architectural Film Festival, Rotterdam
Vermont Film Festival
One World Film Festival, Prague
Women + Film Festival, Denver
San Francisco Green Festival