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The Russian Woodpecker

HD   Unrated SDH

Chad Gracia

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About the Movie

A thrilling investigation into the ghosts of the Soviet Union and the mind of an irradiated Ukrainian artist on a quest to discover the 'criminal' behind the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Unforgettably eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich begins his quest by revealing to the world an enormous secret Soviet weapon that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl, and which Kremlinologists in the 1980s thought might be a giant mind-control device. But what Fedor discovers is much more sinister. While his theory that Chernobyl was an inside job may seem mad, the audience too starts to question reality when secret police appear and one of the crew members is shot by a sniper, as revolution, paranoia and terror engulf the crew. This Sundance Grand Jury winner and darling of critics worldwide pushes the boundaries of the documentary form while telling a crucial story about the deadly dance between Ukraine and Russia, and hinting at what Putin has in mind next.


Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 24
  • Fresh: 23
  • Rotten: 1
  • Average Rating: 8.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Mr. Gracia's messily structured film works best as a document of fear in today's Ukraine and as a kind of ghost story about the Soviet Union. – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times, Oct 15, 2015

Fresh: A complex documentary about Chernobyl that is surprisingly, richly enjoyable. – Dennis Harvey, Variety, Feb 1, 2015

Fresh: Provocative, spooky and just a little nutty. – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times, Oct 29, 2015

Fresh: Chad Gracia's The Russian Woodpecker offers a wild ride through Ukrainian and Soviet history, from the famines of the early 30s through Chernobyl and up to the present-day war with Russia. – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter, Oct 12, 2015

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Brilliant, must-see!

I’ve seen this film three times now and I will watch it again and again. I’m Ukrainian myself and I’d recommend this film to anybody who wants to understand not just Chornobyl catastrophe but the historical perspective, recent events in Ukraine and the big picture. This documentary is a brilliant mix of research and interviewing with artistic theatrical performance.
Maybe the theory put out here will not convince you but it will not leave you uninterested: it will grip you with fascinating information that you’ve never heard before, and let you experience it through the life of the main character Fedor. It will leave you asking questions, and inspire you for more knowledge.
My highest recommendation! Bravo to the team!

Epic Fun, Epic Fright

Equal parts filmmaker's art and old-school agitprop, RUSSIAN WOODPECKER is a must-see for the conspiracy theorist, the socially conscious, and lovers of good-old creepy yarns alike.


What an insane, genius film. I'm not sure whether or not the conspiracy is real, and honestly I'm scared to know.

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Customer Ratings