The Russian Woodpecker

The Russian Woodpecker

Chad Gracia (2015)

80min
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Review

Our Score
A corking conspiracy lies at the heart of Chad Gracia's debut documentary, whose darkly comic proceedings are strewn with covert recordings and animated interludes. According to Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was caused by a Kremlin bureaucrat hoping that a meltdown at the nuclear plant would distract from the fact that the nearby Duga radar system - which had been erected at a cost of $7 billion and did little but emit a woodpecker-like clicking that interfered with radio and television transmissions - had been a colossal failure. From the conversations Alexandrovich has with Soviet loyalists, something decidedly dodgy was going on. But, while he never quite makes his case, Alexandrovich does reveal the extent to which the accident has shaped both his psyche and his art, while also leaving traces of strontium in his body. His antics inside the forbidden zone might seem a touch eccentric, but Gracia recognises the germ of dangerous truth in his theories and tomfoolery, and frames him sympathetically.

Cast & Crew

Director Chad Gracia

Other Information

Language: English, RussianColourTheatrical distributor: DocHouseReleased on: 20 Nov 2015