Freedom Films VIII: The Babushkas of Chernobyl – 7th June 2019

The Babushkas of Chernobyl (2015, Dir. Holly Morris, Anne Bogart, 71 mins) is this month’s curated Freedom Film Club film.

In the radioactive Dead Zone surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor a community of old women cling to their ancestral homeland. While their neighbours have long since fled and their husbands gradually died off, this sisterhood of women labour to cultivate land deemed uninhabitable. Ignoring government orders and health warnings, the ‘Babushkas of Chernobyl’ continue to forge an existence in one of the most toxic environments on earth.

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We are intriged to develop our understanding of the role of defiance – against the prevailing will of society, against reason, even against nature – and the role of ‘home’, in what it means for human beings to be free.

“Radiation doesn’t scare me. Starvation does.”

“The exclusion zone is not a prison,” Valentyna Ivanivna, 75, says in the film as she fishes in the Pripyat River, which flows past the old nuclear plant. She is an expert on the medicinal herbs her grandmother taught her to gather in the forest. Life here, she believes, is healthier than in the city.

“Shoot us and dig the grave,” she told the soldiers who tried to evacuate her and other family members, “otherwise we’re staying.”

Quotes brought out in pieces in the Guardian and New York Times

0c617b83e0d313e0fbec84f768421de7The film has garnered acclaim, winning film festivals around the world. View its trailer below.

Bonus: Director Holly Morris’ TED talk on making the film (8’40”):

Please let us know if you’ll be watching and, of course, share thoughts on the hashtag.

We view films and discuss them from 1900-2200pm UK time.