Screened as part of NZIFF 2015

The Russian Woodpecker 2015

Directed by Chad Gracia

The Sundance Grand Jury prizewinner for World Cinema Documentary is a scarier-than-fiction investigation of the Chernobyl disaster, headed up by an eccentric young artist, and abetted by the fearless filmmakers.

UK / USA In English and Russian with English subtitles
82 minutes DCP



Mike Lerner
Chad Gracia
Ram Devineni


Artem Ryzhykov


Chad Gracia
Devin Tanchum


Katya Mihailova


Fedor Alexandrovich
Vladimir Komarov
Vladimir Usatenko
Georgy Kopchinski
Vladimir Musiets
Vadim Prokofiev
Alexander Naumov
Nikolai Shkurat


Sundance 2015


Ukrainian artist and provocateur Fedor Alexandrovich, our impassioned guide in this engrossing, non-fiction conspiracy thriller, was a boy when the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded in 1986. Adjacent to the reactor was a massive billion-dollar antenna array, which transmitted a curious clicking noise (aka ‘the Russian Woodpecker’) across the airwaves, baffling Western intelligence services for years. Convinced the sinister structure’s purpose was connected to the disaster, Alexandrovich tracks down and interviews former Soviet officials and scientists. The more contemptuous they appear of his line of questioning, the more convinced you are that, whatever the facts, he’s onto something deeply disturbing.

“Alexandrovich has the hypnotic power to become a generation’s counter-culture icon while the history lessons of the many interviews in this vibrant piece should leave most audiences completely stunned. Passionate, audacious and revolutionary, both the film and its inhabitants are uninterested in just standing around as our current world spins.” — Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, Fandor