FFF 2016 Day 3 The Babushkas of Chernobyl

Would You Buy a Home Where Seven People Were Murdered? Of Course!

Would You Buy a Home Where Seven People Were Murdered? Of Course!

The House is Innocent
This is the film. Hysterical.

Every now and then at the FFF a movie is so good it becomes an instant “all time favorite.” At this festival, that film is The House is Innocent. Although, to be honest, it could also include another delightful short, Pickle.

In The House is Innocent a quirky couple named Tom and Barbara, with a love of the macabre and a delightfully whimsical sense of humor, are looking for a house to buy. During one tour, they happen to notice the home at 1426 F Street in Sacramento, California, right next to the home they were looking to buy, was also for sale. They didn’t know that in the 80’s a 71 year old woman killed seven tenants who were renting there, buried their bodies in the yard, then continued to cash their social security checks. As soon as they heard the story about the history of the house, they decided they had to buy it. And, it was cheap!

Tom and Barbara went about renovating the home with a spirited eye towards its dark history. In one shower, they put up a curtain decorated with yellow police crime scene tape. On the exterior, they put up a sign that said, “Don’t blame me, I’m innocent. The House.”

While the homeowners are the onscreen star of this brilliant short, the real stars are Nicholas Coles’ directing and Michael Madrid’s editing. While Tom and Barbara turned a house of horrors into a wacky tourist attraction, Nicholas and Michael turn a short film into a sharp, crisp documentary that you won’t soon forget.

This one is, surprisingly, a lot of fun and, definitely, a must see.


Are They Courageous or Just Crazy?

Are They Courageous or Just Crazy?

The Babushkas of Chernobyl
This is an incredible, unforgettable documentary about a group of a few hundred women who lived on the outskirts of Chernobyl when the nuclear reactor exploded in 1986. They were immediately and permanently evacuated. However, this was the only home they had ever known. So they snuck back in, having to crawl through a barb wire fence and walk over 70 kilometers to their homes.

30 years have elapsed and many of these women are still alive. They insist they are better and healthier than if they had chosen to remain in the evacuation zone. While the group consists almost entirely of women, they do point out that there are two “useless men.” These men are not shown in the film.

Every now and then, government workers come into the site, measure radiation, and check up on the residents. While the women fish and grow their own food, the entire area is teeming with high doses of radiation. The women offer the workers a taste of their food. Shockingly, they eat some. Afterwards they explain that it would be a huge insult to these women to refuse their food so they simply, “eat as little as they can get away with.”

Other trespassers into the exclusion zone are young video game players who are hooked on the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. They sneak into the zone, drink water from the contaminated river and approach the reactor itself. The movie does not identify them nor does it reveal whether there are any negative effects from these excursions.

Somehow, during the movie, the filmgoer may notice a subtle change. Undoubtedly, when one first hears about little old ladies choosing to live in a nuclear exclusion zone, one instantly thinks they must be crazy–or worse. The movie gradually dispels this notion. One comes to appreciate and even love these gentle spirits who have the determination and courage to continue to call this nuclear wilderness, “home.”


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