Pripyat | Chicago Reader

Pripyat

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, Soviet authorities cordoned off a contaminated area 30 kilometers wide, a region now called “the Zone.” Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter interviewed a cross section of the several thousand people who've returned to the evacuated town of Pripyat, and their surprisingly candid, sometimes morbid observations reveal the psychological scars left by the ecological devastation as well as a poignant sense of hope and resilience. Shot in black and white, this 1999 documentary is compassionate in tone yet never explicitly judgmental; Geyrhalter lets his subjects react to their environment as they visit abandoned homes or trek through a jungle of wild brush, fully aware that they risk being contaminated but too much in love with their homeland to care.

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