Heavy Water: a film for Chernobyl

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An intensely moving portrait of world’s biggest ever industrial accident.

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Using works from Mario Petrucci’s award-winning book-length poem for Chernobyl, the film tells the story of the explosion and its catastrophic aftermath.

“A tender harrowing film that had the audience left holding its collective breath” – The Scotsman

Petrucci’s poetry forms the backbone of the film’s narrative. The poems — absolutely unflinching and painfully precise, yet compassionate — are cut together with revealing archive and evocative location footage of the ghost-town of Pripyat and the surrounding exclusion zone.  The poems are read by actors Juliet Stevenson, David Threlfall and Samuel West.

The film has been over a year in the making. Directors Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff travelled to Ukraine and into the exclusion zone to film the deserted town of Pripyat and the interior of the destroyed reactor, and to meet some of the ‘settlers’ who have rebuilt their lives inside the radioactive area, despite official advice. They then worked closely with Petrucci to cut the words and images together. It was a new experience for all of them. The result is an intensely moving film, which, rather than relating the technical details of the world’s biggest ever industrial accident, emphasises the effect of the disaster on the people of Chernobyl.

WINNER – SPECIAL MENTION
Ourense International Independent Film Festival

WINNER – BEST SHORT FILM
Cinequest Film Festival

WINNER – BEST SCORE
Rhode Island International Film Festival

NOMINATED – ABC NEWS SOURCE VIDEO AWARD
IDA Awards

OFFICIAL SELECTION

IDA Docuweek Aug 06

Calgary Film Festival Sep 06

Cork International Film Festival Oct 06

Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival Nov 06

London Documentary Film Festival Mar 07

StAnza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival Mar 07

Brighton Festival May 07

DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Canada May 07

Green Film Festival, Seoul May 07

Port Townsend Film Festival Sept 07

EthnoFilmFest Berlin Nov 07

Detroit Docs Oct 07

International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) Montreal, Mar 08

Yilan Green International Film Festival, Apr 08

Poetry by Mario Petrucci

Filmed & directed by David Bickerstaff & Phil Grabsky

Poetry read by Juliet Stevenson, David Threlfall and Samuel West