Heavy Water - A Film for Chernobyl


David Bickerstaff & Phil Grabsky


Production support


Based on Mario Petrucci's award-winning book-length Poem for Chernobyl, Heavy Water, this film tells the story of the people who dealt with the world's worst nuclear disaster at ground level: the fire-fighters, the soldiers, the 'liquidators' and their families.

Long Synopsis

Petrucci's poetry forms the backbone of the film's narrative. The poems are cut together with revealing archive and evocative location footage of the ghost-town of Pripyat and the surrounding exclusion zone. The poems are read by actors Francine Brody, Juliet Stevenson, David Threlfall and Samuel West.

Directors Phil Grabsky and David Bickerstaff travelled to Ukraine and into the exclusion zone to film the deserted town of Pripyat and the interior of the destroyed reactor. They have made an intensely moving film, which, rather than relating the technical details of the world's biggest ever industrial accident, emphasises the effect of the disaster on the people of Chernobyl.