International Competition

The Russian Woodpecker

Chad Gracia
Screening time  
23.02. / Tuesday, 16:00 - 18:00 Theatre 5  
26.02. / Friday, 14:00 - 16:00 Theatre 4  
27.02. / Saturday, 21:30 - 23:30 Theatre 2  
Putting his own life in danger, eccentric Ukrainian artist is determined to unravel the truth behind the nuclear disaster.

The eccentric Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich was just four years old in April 1986, when the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl exploded. He was evacuated following the disaster, but the radiation had already permeated his bones. He returns to what is now a ghost town with radiation readings 10 times higher than normal to visit the gigantic Duga 3 radar station, which stands next to the former nuclear power station. Duga 3 was part of a radar system that became famous for interfering with world radio communications by emitting a repetitive tapping noise that sounded like a woodpecker. Despite having cost billions, Duga was never as effective as had been anticipated, and Alexandrovich stumbles on a conspiracy theory that links the huge antenna with the nuclear disaster. Was the explosion caused on purpose? Putting his own life in danger, the artist is determined to unravel the truth behind the disaster. But The Russian Woodpecker is about much more than Chernobyl alone: the sense of paranoia and foreboding accompanying Alexandrovich’s search for the truth is reflected in the increasing unrest and threat of war in Kiev. The roots of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine are revealed – from the 1930s genocide in the gulags to the recent uprisings.


Chad Gracia

Chad Gracia has worked in New York theater for nearly 20 years as a producer, dramaturge, and playwright. His works have seen productions in various cities in the United States and Europe. The Russian Woodpecker is his first film.

General sponsor

The Russian Woodpecker

Great Britain, Ukraine, USA
2015, 82'

Directed by:
Chad Gracia

Screenplay by:
Chad Gracia

Artem Ryzhykov

Edited by:
Chad Gracia, Devin Tanchum

Katya Mihailova

Mike Lerner, Ram Devineni, Chad Gracia

Produced by:
Roast Beef Productions, Rattapallax, Gracia Films

Festivals & Awards:

 Sundance Film Festival 2015 – Grand Jury Prize World Cinema Documentary, International Documentary Association 2015 – Best Cinematography, Cork Film Festival 2015 – Award for Cinematic Documentary,  Greenwich International Film Festival 2015 – Best Documentary Feature, Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2015 – Special Jury Prize, Hera Award Best Debut Film, Life Tales Award 2015, Montclair Film Festival 2015 – Bruce Sinofsky Prize for Documentary Feature, DocAviv Film Festival 2015, Independent Spirit Awards 2015, Sheffield International Documentary Festival 2015, Zurich Film Festival 2015