atomictv David Bickerstaff
Artist, filmmaker and creative director of digital media for narrative environments

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Pripyat: City of the Future
Short film

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Video
HD | 16:9 | 10 minutes

While filming in the Chernobyl restricted zone for Heavy Water: a Film for Chernobyl, I was particulary moved by my time filming the ghost city of Pripyat and decided to make a short film in response.

In Soviet Ukraine, Pripyat was known as the 'city of the future'. Built in 1970 for the workers at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, it had beautiful new housing, modern facilities and a vibrant, young community. Then on April 26th, 1986, reactor four at Chernobyl explodes, sending an enormous radioactive cloud over Northern Ukraine and neighboring Belarus.

The danger is kept a secret from the population of Pripyat who go about their business as usual, three kilometers away. Children play, lovers get married, shops are trading and the residents marvel at the spectacular fire raging at the reactor. After three days, an area the size of England becomes contaminated with radioactive dust.

The 50,000 inhabitants of Pripyat are eventually evacuated over the course of a single day. With the population displaced, forgotten and damaged, Pripyat still remains empty. This film experiments with the documentary format by using generated sound, archive imagery and footage from Pripyat as it stands today - a ghostly monument to the devastation caused by nuclear accidents and the loss of a promised future.

Archive from Ukraine National Film Archive
Songs by Drewo
Editing and sound by David Bickerstaff
Cinematography by David Bickerstaff and Phil Grabsky

List of screenings
SPECIALTEN issue 14
Perspectives, Ondotzero_10, ICA, London (and world tour)
BBC film Network
PROJ(ECT) Festival international de nouvelles images, Nancy
Artsway

   
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