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The Door | A Short Filmed in Chernobyl

March 3, 2010

photo by NiccollsDP on flickr

Pripyat, the radioactive Ukranian ghost town that housed the Chernobyl workers and their families before the nuclear fallout in 1986, is the setting of a new short film directed by Irish filmmaker Juanita Wilson. Inspired by a story in a book called Voices From Chernobyl and particularly by the town’s abandoned playground (pictured above), The Door is based on a short piece written by a man called Nikolai Kalugin who ended up stealing his own front door and driving it on the back of a motorbike through a forest. The 17-minute short had to be shot within a 3-hour time limit and wearing special clothing…for obvious reasons!

The authors explain:

“The film opens with an absurd act: stealing a door. This raises a question in the viewer’s mind, a question which is not answered until the final shot where the door’s purpose is revealed. Then, what had seemed an absurd act turns into a simple statement of human dignity, of people making sense of loss through ritual.

The Door is a universal symbol of life, of death, of entering the next life. It has many associations inherent in it, both positive and negative. It can mean an opportunity gained or an opportunity lost: As one door opens, another one closes…”

“THE DOOR reflects the fact that it is based on someone’s testimony. Images are impressionistic, haunting, like fragments of memories which the viewer must piece together. Although the main character, Nikolai, gives us the facts, he himself is trying to make sense of them in his own mind.

The story moves forwards and backwards in time, revealing the events retrospectively as the viewer bears witness to the universal tragedy of Chernobyl through the eyes of one man.”

The Door has been nominated for best live-action short film at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony.

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