In the radioactive Dead Zone surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, a defiant community of women scratch out an existence on some of the most toxic land on Earth. They share this hauntingly beautiful but lethal landscape with an assortment of visitors– scientists, soldiers, and even ‘stalkers’ — young thrill-seekers who sneak in to pursue post-apocalyptic video game-inspired fantasies. Why the film’s central characters, Hanna, Maria and Valentyna, chose to return after the disaster – defying the authorities and endangering their health – is a remarkable tale about the pull of home, the healing power of shaping one’s destiny, and the subjective nature of risk.
** 2015 Seattle International Film Festival