On April 24, 2020, in commemoration of the 34th anniversary of Chornobyl nuclear disaster, the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation hosted it's first live webinar, streaming The Russian Woodpecker . The webinar included a follow-up discussion with distinguished panelists, including Chad Gracia, the author of The Russian Woodpecker , an exemplary winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and the Best Cinematography Award at the 31st International Documentary Association Awards Presentation of 2015.
The film follows Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich's investigation into the Chornobyl disaster and its possible connection to a Soviet Cold War-era structure, the Duga over-the-horizon radio antenna bridging a personal story, Soviet era events and the recent blast in Russia-Ukraine’s relations.
The film was well received and highly rated by most critics. Here are some of the reviews: "surprisingly inventive, even buoyant in its presentation of several issues that could scarcely be more sobering" (Harvey, Dennis, February 1, 2015, Variety); "example of the ease with which conspiracy vitiates meaningful debate about Chornobyl" (Serhii Plokhiy, historian and author of investigative book Chornobyl: History of a Tragedy); as noted by Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter, "given the film's narrative encompasses the death of thousands of people at various points in Ukrainian history, and most recently hundreds in the recent conflict [...] Gracia finds the humor in many of the situations, and has properly Slavic feel for the absurd. Bouncy animation and fish-eye lens are frequently deployed to create a stylized sense of playfulness which only enhances the film's many compelling qualities”.
More information about the film can be found here: http://www.russianwoodpecker.com/about
Article by Oksana Sukhina, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Anatole was Ukrainian-born, who wrote, directed, and produced films in various countries and languages. Litvak was notable for directing little-known foreign actors to early fame, often winning them Academy Awards. Litvak directed Confessions of a Nazi Spy in 1939 starring Edward G. Robinson, which used actual newsreel footage from U.S. Nazi rallies. As a refugee from Nazi Germany, Litvak was among the few directors who tried to open Hollywood's eyes to the threat Germany posed to Europe and the world. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Litvak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6633 Hollywood Blvd.