From Russia With Love: The Babushkas

Posted in Community, Film, History, More Stories, Video, Visual Art, What's Happening

Whidbey Life Guest Contributor
October 19, 2016

There’s no place like home. Ask Whidbey Islanders, and they’ll tell you that the best part of any journey is that short ferry ride north from the mainland to where the evergreens meet the horizon, where the eagles surf the skies, where the deer and rabbits roam as they please and where friends and family wait to welcome them back to the Island. Back to this beautiful place we call home.

"The Babushkas of Chernobyl" (photo courtesy of Holly Morris)

“The Babushkas of Chernobyl” (photo courtesy of Holly Morris)

Half a world away from Whidbey, an intrepid group of Ukrainian women have refused to let one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters keep them from returning to their beloved home: Chernobyl. To tell their incredible story, award-winning filmmaker, “adventure diva” and Hedgebrook alumna Holly Morris is bringing her unflinching documentary “The Babushkas Of Chernobyl” to The Clyde Theatre for a special screening and discussion this Sunday, October 23, at 1 p.m. as part of The Clyde’s Films & Filmmakers Series.

Thirty years ago, at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Reactor Four famously melted down in an accident that created more than 400 times the radiation of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Why would these elderly women return to the toxic “dead zone” surrounding Chernobyl? Did they not know about the risks? When a Soviet official tried to stop one of the “Babas,” she said “Shoot me and dig the grave. Otherwise, I’m going home.” These are women who had faced the forced famines of Stalin and the brutality of the Nazi regime. When warned about the deadly level of radiation surrounding their homes, another of the women said “I don’t fear radiation. I fear starvation. Better that I have five years of happiness in my home, rather than ten in a high rise in Kiev.”

Filmmaker Holly Morris stands in front of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor (photo courtesy of Holly Morris)

Filmmaker Holly Morris stands in front of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor (photo courtesy of Holly Morris)

The pull of home is powerful thing. Holly Morris is returning to her own Pacific Northwestern roots this weekend, and she is proud to share her warm and wonderful film with a Whidbey audience. At its heart, the film is a story of three women who have decided to shape their own destinies and make their way home, come what may.

“The Babuskhas Of Chernobyl” was produced in partnership with Hedgebrook as part of its new initiative to support women filmmakers. Nancy Nordhoff and Lynn Hays are the executive producers. A portion of the proceeds from this screening benefits the filmmaker.

RK Buzard is writer, artist, and renovator. She kisses the ground of Whidbey on a daily basis.


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