Last Updated: Wed Mar 23, 2011 13:35 pm (KSA) 10:35 am (GMT)

Chernobyl film echoes Japan's nuke fears

A still from the movie 'Innocent Saturday'
A still from the movie 'Innocent Saturday'

A new drama film set in Chernobyl opens in Russian cinemas this week, recalling the trauma of the world's worst nuclear accident just ahead of the the 25th anniversary of the catastrophe.

The Russian film's release comes after the quake-damage to a nuclear power plant in Japan brought fears of a nuclear explosion on the scale of Chernobyl and suspicions of another Soviet-style cover-up by officials.

The film, "Innocent Saturday", shows a junior party worker, Valera, learning of the explosion by chance and initially trying to escape from the town of Pripyat just outside the Chernobyl zone.

But he misses the last passenger train out of the town because his girlfriend cannot run fast enough and finds himself drawn into a drunken wedding party, where he plays drums for a rock band and downs bottles of wine.

His friends brush off warnings of the dangers with macabre jokes, even when they finally view the flaming power station, in scenes that recall the near anarchic atmosphere in the days after the April 26, 1986 explosion.

"You create an image or a metaphor born from your own life and then that metaphor returns to you in your life or world events," director Alexander Mindadze said in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency.

"What I was trying to talk about was not only relevant yesterday but is unfortunately relevant today."

When reactor number four at the Chernobyl power plant blew up during a planned test in April 1986, it took several days for the Soviet authorities to officially admit the accident and evacuate residents in the fall-out zone.

"The archival subject matter of 'Innocent Saturday' unintentionally overlaps with the accident at the power plant in Japan, hit by the tsunami and quake," Itogi magazine said in a review.

The film was shot in Svetlodarsk, eastern Ukraine, around a non-nuclear power station, which was made to resemble Chernobyl using computer graphics.

Art-house director Mindadze is best-known for his collaborations with director Vadim Abdrashitov. Their film "Plumbum or a Dangerous Game" was shot in Minsk during the Chernobyl disaster.

The film was set to open March 24 in Belarus, which suffered most from Chernobyl's radioactive fallout, but has been unexpectedly pulled from schedules, an official responsible for Minsk cinemas told Rossiiskaya Gazeta, blaming a problem with distribution rights.

Mindadze told Rossiiskaya Gazeta that no one in Belarus had applied to his studio for distribution rights, however.

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