Conspiracy theories about Russia have always been a dime a dozen here in the West, but this one’s a doozy, and actually originates not in Washington but from the heart of the former Soviet Union. Winner of a World Cinema Documentary Prize at Sundance, Chad Gracia’s The Russian Woodpecker provides a platform for the endearingly quirky Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich to investigate the reasons behind the infamous 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown. Utilizing archival news footage and slickly produced computer animations, Gracia helps Alexandrovich outline a theory so “fantastical” (in the words of one former Soviet official), that no one has ever even dared consider it. Which may be all the more reason it could be true. A marvelously entertaining and beautifully shot documentary, The Russian Woodpecker hits on all cylinders in reflecting Ukrainian-Russian-U.S. relations today, including Vladimir Putin’s nostalgia for the Soviet Union and the very serious dangers for outspoken Ukrainians during the recent Euromaidan movement. Indeed, through interviews with Alexandrovich (who was a young boy in Chernobyl at the the time of the incident) and tight-lipped former government officials, Gracia reveals that Soviet-era paranoia is still widespread more than generation after the end of the Cold War.
Thursday, April 16, 7:00pm
Friday, April 17, 7:30pm
Director: Chad Garcia
Producers: Mike Lerner, Ram Devineni
Cinematography: Artem Ryzhykov
Editing: Chad Garcia, Alan Berliner, Devin Tanchum
Premiere: January 24, 2015 – Sundance Film Festival