The Glasnost Film Festival
is a 12 DVD collection featuring 22 documentary films produced or released in the beginning of the "Glasnost Era" in the Soviet Union, 1986-1988. These independent films definitively document the historic cultural and political shifts that led to greater openness and the eventual demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.
All were produced originally on 35mm film and are subtitled in English.
Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, 54 min.
A Film by Vladimir Shevchenko
The definitive record of the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the heroic, horrifying attempts to clean up. Vladimir Shevchenko's Russian film crew was the first in the disaster zone following the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear disaster in world history.
The film crew shot continuously for more than 3 months, documenting the disaster's impact on the local population and the harrowing cleanup efforts, including the effort to cover the core with concrete and lead.
Radiation levels were so high that parts of the film were marked with white blotches from radiation. "Radiation is a fatal invisible foe. It has no odour, nor colour. But it has a voice. We thought this film was defective. But we were mistaken. This is how radiation looks," said Shevchenko of the literally radioactive footage. He later died from radiation exposure before the film was released.
At the Tbilisi Film Festival, a Ukranian newspaper reported that Shevchenko was lauded as an "outstanding man, who gave his life so that we and our descendants could see with our own eyes all the horror and depth of the Chernobyl tragedy."
The BAM Zone: Permanent Residents, 19 min.
A Film by Mikhail Pavlov
The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) Railroad in Siberia is called the longest monument to the stagnation of the Brezhnev years. The film emphasizes the ghost towns left behind when work was finished.
Says the film's director, "Before filming, we screened kilometers of BAM film. There were marches and songs, meetings and delegations...But behind the screen, actually equipment was breaking down, lives were broken and souls became calloused. The track...lies there and is of no use."