Pelicam, the International Festival on Environment and People brings to Tulcea, this year, an exceptional movie which tells the life story of the women who chose to return to Chernobyl after the nuclear accident and live in the forbidden zone, the only place they consider home. The Babushkas of Chernobyl (Holly Morris, Anne Bogart, 2015, Ukraine/USA) shows the everyday life of the old ladies who pick raspberries and grow livestock as if they would not live in an area where no one dares to go.
On 26 April 1986, the fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, causing a fire that lasted 10 days and the emission of radiation 400 times higher than those produced by the Hiroshima bomb. 30 years after the catastrophe, the former plant lies amidst a forbidden area which spans 2 600 km², a guarded and monitored area where access is restricted.
In this framework, several babushkas (meaning grandmothers, in Ukrainian) have returned to live there semi-legally after deciding that relocation is worse than radiation. In one of the first scenes of the film, the former nurse Vita says that the air in her village is possibly cleaner than the one in Kiev, where people eat “all kind of chemicals”. Meanwhile, however, measurements show that the area is still a health hazard.
30 years after the worst environment catastrophe in Europe, the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, we remember the dramatic consequences of the explosion and the measures were taken afterwards to ensure such an accident does not repeat. Together with the screening of The Babushkas of Chernobyl, we initiate a debate on nuclear energy at Pelicam Talks with director Holly Morris and Lavinia Andrei, president of Terra Millenium III Foundation.
Director Holly Morris will tell us the background of The Babushkas of Chernobyl and will share her personal experiences during filming. Lavinia Andrei will give us the Romanian context of using nuclear power, as long as her extensive experience as activist. The debate will be moderated by journalist Andra Matzal.
“I am delighted to attend and present my film at Pelicam. Given the festival focus on environment and people, I cannot imagine a better place to premiere the documentary in Romania. While I was covering as a journalist the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl accident for a travel documentary, I came across this extraordinary reality of women inside the forbidden zone. I was immediately captivated and wanted to understand better the story of these courageous, independent women, and understand their ability to survive under these toxic conditions”, says the American director Holly Morris.
Pelicam – the International Festival on Environment and People takes place between 16 and 19 June 2016, for a fifth consecutive year. As usual, the festival includes dozens of environmental documentaries having their national premieres, debates, concerts, exhibitions, workshops and special meeting with international filmmakers and environmental specialists from all over the world.
Pelicam festival is organized by Les Herbes Folles Association, with the support of National Film Center, the Municipality of Tulcea, Romanian Filmmakers Union, Romanian Cultural Insitute.