THE RUSSIAN WOODPECKER follows Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich on a thrilling and surreal journey in search of the “criminal” behind the Chernobyl catastrophe. A victim of that disaster, Fedor discovers a dark secret that leads to threats against his life all amid growing clouds of revolution and war in his homeland. This mystifying and magnetic painter – irradiated by Chernobyl and battling the ghosts of the Soviet Union – is a a spokesman for Ukraine itself.
Fedor Alexandrovich is a radioactive man. He was four years old in 1986, when he was exposed to the toxic effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown and forced to leave his home. Now 33, he is an artist in Ukraine, with radioactive strontium in his bones and a singular obsession with the earth-changing catastrophe - why did it actually happen? Was there more to the story than the Soviet government let on? And, most importantly, what did this all have to do with the giant, mysterious steel pyramid now rotting away 2 miles from the disaster site: a hulking Cold War weapon known as the Duga and nicknamed "the Russian Woodpecker" for the strange, constant clicking radio frequencies that it emits? In Chad Gracia's documentary/conspiracy thriller (from the producers of PUSSY RIOT and THE SQUARE), Alexandrovich returns to the ghost towns in the radioactive Exclusion Zone to try to find answers - and to decide whether to risk his life by revealing them, amid growing clouds of Ukraine's emerging revolution and war.