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The Babushkas of Chernobyl
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The Babushkas of Chernobyl

The Babushkas of Chernobyl journeys into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone several decades after the world's worst nuclear disaster in April 1986. The tightly regulated 1000 square mile Dead Zone remains one of the most radioactively contaminated places on Earth, complete with military border guards.

Surprisingly, a defiant, spirited group of elderly women scratches out an existence in this lethal landscape. The resilient babushkas are the last survivors of a small community who refused to leave their ancestral homes after the Chernobyl disaster.

The film follows the women for over a year, capturing their unusual lives in the Dead Zone, as well as other extraordinary scenes -- from radiation spikes just a few feet from the nuclear reactor, to a group of thrill-seekers called "Stalkers" who sneak into the Zone illegally to pursue post-apocalyptic video game-inspired fantasies.

Scientists in the area describe the extent of contamination in the Exclusion Zone and the continuing danger of radiation poisoning. Journalist Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl, studies the long-term impacts on humans, animals, and plants. A visit to the reactor itself shows a containment sarcophagus under construction, which will need to last longer than the pyramids in Egypt to prevent further radiation releases.

While the babushkas' spirit mirrors the determination of the Ukrainian nation - a country that continues to survive despite its ongoing conflict with Russia - it remains unlikely Chernobyl will be repopulated anytime in the foreseeable future

Comments (3)

Anonymous picture

Very touching. I think I would join the babushkas. Their lives seem to be the most authentic and "healthy" compared to others who never returned to their homeland after 1986.

Anonymous picture

Amazing! The medics found that the older people who left died of "anguish" while these babushkas live on with friendship, singing, practicing their faith, using their hands, staying active, and keeping ties with their lifelong community.

Dylan avatar

This is a wonderful example of a character driven, social issue documentary film - and what characters! Wisecracking babushkas who refused to evacuate the Chernobyl region, remaining in the "Dead Zone." Through their eyes, we come to understand that our aging nuclear power infrastructure may ...Read more