FFF4 | Zvizdal [Chernobyl – so far so close] / ONASSIS CULTURAL CENTRE

FFF4 | Zvizdal [Chernobyl – so far so close]


Fast Forward Festival 4

10-11 MAY 2017

Main Stage
75 minutes
A filmic portrait about two people, living in a ghost town. A story about solitude and survival, the results of a failed atomic experiment.
Full price: 10 €
Friend & Small groups (5-9 people): 8 €
Large groups (10+ people): 7 €
Reduced, Unemployed, People with disabilities & Companions: 5 €
On the 27th of April 1986, 24 hours after the explosion, the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is evacuated. 350,000 inhabitants abandon their homes. Forever. But two refuse and have stayed on in their village for the last 27 years. Their extreme lives provide the raw material for Berlin’s performance-installation.

For five years (2011–2015), Berlin, the performance duo, applied for the special permits and took the necessary precautions required to visit Nadia and Pyotr in Chernobyl’s radioactive exclusion zone. A place we, too, will come to know through the duo's filmed material and the first-hand accounts of the last two inhabitants of Zvizdal, the ghost-village they stubbornly refuse to leave and have inhabited alone for the last 27 years.

Why would anyone insist on living in self-imposed exile in a place that has been turned into a repository for nuclear fuel, cut off from every form of social contact, with nature overrunning everything and the invisible but real threat of radioactivity hanging over them for life? What’s it like to reach the age of 90 far from civilization, without running water, gas, electricity, a telephone or mail? What does it mean when your only company is just one other person, a cow, an old horse, a cat, a dog and a few chickens?

"Don’t we have air to breathe here? Don’t we have food to eat? What could happen to us?", Nadia responds, inviting us to use Berlin’s mysterious, Beckettian footage to reflect on our own lives and choices.

Three years on from their Greek début, Jerusalem, a performance that tackled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the 2014 Fast Forward Festival, Berlin return with an OCC co-production that makes us witnesses to a moving chronicle of loneliness and comradeship, isolation and hope, faith and perseverance, catastrophe and survival.


With: Nadia & Pétro Opanassovitch Lubenoc
Concept: Bart Baele, Yves Degryse, Cathy Blisson
Scenography: Manu Siebens, Ina Peeters, BERLIN
Interviews: Yves Degryse, Cathy Blisson
Camera & Editing: Bart Baele, Geert De Vleesschauwer
Sound Recordings: Toon Meuris, Bas de Caluwé, Manu Siebens, Karel Verstreken
Interpreter: Olga Mitronina
Soundtrack & Mixing: Peter Van Laerhoven
Construction Set: Manu Siebens, Klaartje Vermeulen, Dirk Stevens, Kasper Siebens, Kopspel, Rex Tee (stagiair)
Mechanics: Joris Festjens, Dirk Lauwers
Scale Model: Ina Peeters, with the help of Puck Vonk, Rosa Fens and Thomas Dreezen
Graphics: Jelle Verryckt
Website: Stijn Bonjean
Communication/Production: Laura Fierens
Business Management: Kurt Lannoye
Administrative Support: Jane Seynaeve

Coproducers: Het Zuidelijk Toneel (Tilburg, NL), PACT Zollverein (Essen, DE), Dublin Theatre Festival (IE), le CENTQUATRE (Paris, FR), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels, BE), Brighton Festival (UK), BIT Teatergarasjen – House on Fire (Bergen, NO), Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main (DE), Theaterfestival Boulevard (Den Bosch, NL), Onassis Cultural Centre / Fast Forward Festival  (Athens, GR)

Berlinis associated artist to le CENTQUATRE (Paris, FR)

In collaboration with: deSingel (Antwerp, BE)

With support of: the Flemish Government

Thanks to: Wim Bervoets, Brice Maire, Lux Lumen, Els De Bodt, Pascal Rueff, Morgan Touzé, Christophe Ruetsch, Isabelle Grynberg, Nadine Malfait, Natalie Schrauwen, Katleen Treier, Piet Menu, Anthe & Ama Oda Baele, Remi & Ilias Degryse

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Bart Baele and Yves Degryse founded the Berlin Group in 2003 in Belgium, along with Caroline Rochlitz. Their projects incorporate theatre, film, visual art and music.
Every Berlin project takes a highly specific place, city or part of the planet as its starting point. Their first cycle of works, entitled Holocene (after the current geological era), has to date included the following projects: Jerusalem, Iqualuit (the smallest regional capital in Canada in terms of population, it was founded in 1942 as a US military base), Bonanza (a small Rocky Mountain community in Colorado, US), Moscow and Zvizdal. The second cycle, which bears the umbrella title Horror Vacui, has already featured three productions: Tagfish, Land’s End and Perhaps All the Dragons. Berlin are currently preparing new productions for both cycles.
When the French journalist and theatre critic Cathy Blisson left Telerama magazine, she decided to return to Chernobyl, which she has written about in the past. It was Blisson who first spoke to Berlin about the two solitary inhabitants of the Ukrainian village of Zbizntal. Together, they created the film about the life of Pyotr and Nadia.
"The camera will never enter the house": this was the condition Pyotr and Nadia set when Berlin sought their permission to film their lives.
Three revolving models which represent the couple's farm in ZVizntal in three different seasons (summer, winter, autumn) are positioned beneath the screen on which the film is shown. From time to time, the models interact with the filmed material via a GoPro camera.
According to a recent Greenpeace exhibition, some 5 million people currently live in those parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that were contaminated by the radioactivity released at Chernobyl.
Jerusalem was the project with which Berlin introduced themselves to Greek audiences in the context of the OCC’s 1st Fast Forward Festival in May 2014. A performance-film and visual instillation, Berlin called Jerusalem the "portrait of a city". It consists of an unusual combination of video filmed in Jerusalem (including everything from the Wailing Wall to the Palestinian camps) and interviews with local Jewish, Muslim and Christian inhabitants. Berlin visited the city in 2003 and created a first version of the project. When they returned in 2013, they drew on new material and recorded new statements from the people they had interviewed ten years earlier in order to explore the socio-political changes that had occurred over the intervening decade. 

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