Russian film marks Chernobyl's 25th anniversary (Feature)
By Andrew McCathie Feb 14, 2011, 12:22 GMT
Berlin - Moscow-born director Alexander Mindadze has marked the 25th anniversary of the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor with a new film about a group of people suddenly caught up in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The explosion that ripped through the Ukrainian reactor in April 1986 cost hundreds of lives and left others with debilitating illnesses. It was also one of the defining moments in the events leading up to the implosion of the Soviet Union two decades ago.
'It was not only the waste of human life ... the fact is that Chernobyl is with all of us,' Mindadze told a press conference marking the premiere of his film V Subbotu (Innocent Saturday) at the Berlin Film Festival on Monday.
The 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and Mindadze's film also come at a time of renewed debate in Europe about the risks of nuclear energy, with the German government having moved to extend the life of several of its reactors.
Despite the sensitivity surrounding Chernobyl, Mindadze said he did not consider his film to be political.
He said Chernobyl 'will go with our life and history. I wanted to show that life was flourishing during a time of danger.'
'It's the history of Ukraine and Soviet Union,' said Oleg Kohan, who was one of the producers of the film.
Mindadze's movie tells the story of a young local communist party official's frantic efforts to find his girlfriend and make an escape from what he describes as 'a death zone' after learning about the explosion at the reactor. He is sworn to secrecy about the accident.
'It's like bloody Hiroshima,' says one local official in the film as the alarm spreads through the ramshackle offices of the local party apparatus.
Back in 1986 it took the authorities until the following day to evacuate the local town and its surroundings despite the radiation spreading across the region.
Unable to escape, the young official, played by Anton Shagin, remains in the doomed town and ends up joining the party marking a friend's wedding.
Against the backdrop of a heavy rock band, the celebrations become more frenetic as word slowly spreads about the accident.
'Perhaps ... we often get confronted with the limitations of life,' said Mindadze. 'Maybe it is not possible to run from life.'
Shagin told reporters that he was two years old at the time of the accident so had little memory of the event.
But what he did remember was that later at school students were given different coloured coupons - blue if you were from the affected area and therefore required special meals.
Now in its 61st year, the Berlinale will screen about 400 films from 58 countries during the 10-day movie showcase.
Headed by Italian-born actress Isabella Rossellini, the festival' seven-member jury will have to choose from 16 movies for the Berlinale's top honours - the Golden Bear for best film. the
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