Chernobyl film hits home in post-Fukushima Japan

Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:39am EDT
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By Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters) - The film "Land of Oblivion" may revolve around victims of the Chernobyl disaster a quarter of a century ago, but Japanese audiences will see striking parallels with current-day headlines following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Environmental damage, exclusion zones and radiation testing are just some of the images in the film that are redolent of the Fukushima catastrophe, which developed after a series of explosions was set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Writer-director Michale Boganim said she had wrapped up shooting and was editing the film when she saw the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant unfolding on television.

"It was very disturbing for me, like a repetition of history," she told the post-screening Q&A session at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

"Land of Oblivion" follows Anya, Olga Kurylenko of "Quantum of Solace," whose life is turned upside down when her firefighter husband Piotr is called away on their wedding day to fight a "forest fire" and does not return.

Plants start wilting and soldiers blockade roads but nobody knows what is happening in Pripyat, a city built for workers at the nearby power plant, until the government acknowledges the nuclear accident a couple of days later and the entire population of 50,000 is evacuated.

Ten years later, the once-idyllic Pripyat is a wasteland of abandoned Soviet apartments overrun with weeds, and Anya and other characters must cope with the trauma of having been forced to leave their homeland.

"I think that was a big trauma for many people, even more than the accident itself," said Boganim, who is primarily a documentary filmmaker but this time chose fiction to focus on the people over the events at the power plant.   Continued...

<p>Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko arrives for the GQ Men of the Year 2010 Awards at the Royal Opera House in London September 7, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>