Marking the 30th anniversary of the nuclear meltdown, a screening of Chad Gracia’s striking documentary essay about radioactive artist Fedor Alexandrovich, and readings from 2015 Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl.
A well-deserved Sundance grand jury prizewinner in the World Cinema documentary category, The Russian Woodpecker is a complex film about Chernobyl that is also surprisingly, richly enjoyable.
Chad Gracia’s first feature juggles Ukrainian/Russian/Soviet history, a portrait of an eccentric artist, political current-events reportage, and a shocking yet increasingly plausible conspiracy about the catastrophic 1986 nuclear-reactor meltdown. Deftly cramming a terrific amount of history, breaking news, personal drama, culture and context into a trim runtime, The Russian Woodpecker is surprisingly inventive, even buoyant in its presentation of several issues that could scarcely be more sobering.
Dennis Harvey, Variety