City 40 (2016) Movie Script

Wake up.
We'll get dressed.
Did you stain it?
Will we glue?
My name is Nadezhda Kutepova
and I'm a native of Ozersk.
I was born here.
My mother used to warn me, "Darling,
never say where you are from...
or a Black Maria will take us away
and you'll never see your parents again."
We were told we lived in a secret place.
There were spies all over,
sneaking around, gathering information.
My mother told me,
"Let state secrets stay secret."
As I was growing up as a kid
in the city of Chelyabinsk,
I was aware of the existence
of another world,
a strange place, a closed place,
a top-secret place.
The city was called Ozersk at that time
but I never
heard that name as a kid,
because everybody referred to it
as Chelyabinsk-40...
or City 40.
City no. 40 was the name everybody used.
It was not until 1994...
that I understood
that this was actually the place
where they made the plutonium bomb.
A town in South Ural, Russia.
It has a population of almost 100,000.
The town has streets, avenues,
parks and squares...
stadiums, gyms,
theaters and museums.
It reminds you of some peaceful
resort town, doesn't it?
My parents had good friends
who lived in Ozersk, or in City no. 40.
They came to visit us
and they told us that they lived
in a very beautiful city.
But we never visited them back,
and my parents explained to me
that this was not possible
because this was a very special place
that couldn't be reached
by train or by bus from Chelyabinsk.
They said it was, like,
a one-way thing,
so these people could visit us,
but we could never see the place
where they lived.
What are these closed cities?
Each is a state within a state.
Even inside such fenced-off cities
there are separate facilities,
which are also fenced off.
People in these cities
can exit the city,
but it takes a special pass.
This City 40 is
where almost all reserve
of Russia's nuclear materials
is stockpiled.
The system cuts off attempts
at unauthorized access
at an early stage.
Unauthorized access there
cannot even be imagined.
I read about a tell-tale sign
how you know someone is a terrorist.
They are usually dressed warmer
than necessary.
To get in there,
you would need...
a full-scale army operation,
with major assault force,
tanks and everything.
It's a cozy town.
It's a cozy and beautiful town.
But a closed one.
For instance, it was problematic
for you to enter.
Our town is a town of intellectuals.
You can't buy them for anything.
They are...
getting a good education.
The schools have good funding.
They also get good health care,
even if it is getting worse now.
Our citizens are used to the very best.
A closed city implies not only
the comforts of life...
but also implies safety.
Here, in this city,
we can let our children go out
at 11:00 p.m. without worries...
something that people in other towns
cannot do.
Their children have to be accompanied.
The people who were born here stay here.
Do you want it?
Some more.
Share with your brother.
Be careful.
You will be dirty.
I want sour cream.
What sour cream? Only yogurt.
We're out of sour cream.
We'll have it this evening.
I want sour cream.
It's with raspberries, look.
See how tasty it is with raspberries?
We have a woman here, Nadezhda Kutepova.
She is a human rights activist...
who fights for the opening of the city.
She once asked me, "Aren't you concerned
with the barbed wire?
It violates your rights."
I told her...
"My rights are not violated.
Read my lips,"
as President Reagan would say
when they asked him too many questions.
"My rights are not violated."
I like people who are stubborn
and firm in their positions.
But I don't like crazy people.
I work in two fields,
human rights in closed cities...
and the rights of people
affected by radiation.
when Romashov comes, let's comfort him.
With Romashov, we'll have a therapeutic
talk. Did he get the court decision?
No. Today he will come
and tell us everything.
I asked him to please come.
They have done something. Poor thing.
He asked me to call. I called the judge.
It seemed like she was writing
the decision that moment.
And she asked me,
"Nadezhda, please, explain to me..."
-Who was it?
-Let's not say who it was. A judge.
I thought to myself,
well, read the name of the law!
I run an organization,
"Planet of Hopes," in Ozersk.
Officially, the authorities
don't recognize us,
because we're "enemies of the city."
But whenever a city officer,
or their friends or relatives run into
serious legal problems,
they come to us,
because no one else would help.
For many people,
there is no one else to confide in.
I work in the reception room,
greeting people.
It's fun working with her.
She has the same character as myself.
She doesn't have a husband, or parents.
She manages everything...
her work, her home, her kids.
I simply cannot leave this person.
My health is no good, I buried my son,
he had caused me anguish for two years.
And, how should I put it...
I have had a Mayak
related illness since birth.
I have no health left.
She has helped me
and now I can't refuse her,
I am helping her.
Ozersk has been
a closed city since day one.
Originally the Soviet Union
was looking for a site
to produce plutonium for weapons.
Such a site was found,
a spot in the woods.
I remember, we were in school.
It was 1990 or 1989.
We were getting ready for a trip.
A man came to us,
dressed in a solemn suit,
and warned us,
"You guys are not from Ozersk.
You are from Chelyabinsk.
You live on Lenin Street.
Because there are enemies everywhere,
and they aren't sleeping.
Blabbermouths help the enemy."
The forbidden quality of our town
has made people beware of strangers.
I remember an episode
when my father went to a resort.
A fellow train passenger asked him...
for a long time...
about his city, the life, etc...
Father tried to get rid of him
by saying he was born in Chelyabinsk.
That he lived on Lenin Street, and so on.
At the next stop, before leaving,
the passenger said to him,
"Good for you. You haven't
disclosed anything about our city.
Because our town
does not accept traitors."
Even though Mayak
is just a factory in Ozersk,
historically, Mayak has always been
more important than the city.
It was on July 5, 1947.
I was met at the Kyshtym station.
It was 11 o'clock in the evening.
They drove me...
in an unknown direction.
They didn't tell me
where I was being taken.
I thought it would be a factory.
in Kyshtym. I realized...
there were no enterprises there
that would fit my specialization.
I began to worry.
Especially when we passed
through the center of the town.
Then we went up the hill to the church...
and then the woods began.
There was nothing to see.
This is when I really began to worry.
I had a sinking feeling.
Had I been arrested for something?
My mother came here at the age of eight,
with my grandmother
who was a chemical engineer.
You were named after your grandmother?
Yes, my mother named me
in honor of my grandmother.
Whose mother was she?
Mother told me it was
a very long train journey.
People were telling
all kinds of tall stories.
That it was a subterranean city,
they would live underground.
Nobody knew anything.
To build the factory,
they used forced labor
from the prison camps
as construction workers.
They also brought in elite physicists
from all over the country.
Nuclear physics was only just being born.
It was for the best and most intelligent.
Mother told me Grandmother was working
with Kurchatov to produce plutonium.
At that time,
they were scooping it up with spoons.
As she recollected.
People worked with plutonium
with bare hands.
Many died, so they had to bring in
more and more people.
Families were created...
children born.
This is how the town became a real town.
Everything was heavily controlled
by Stalin's secret police.
If someone refused to work, they'd be
taken to a prison camp and executed,
because they were introduced
to state secrets.
They had no choice.
We got used to the fact that, like pawns,
we were moved from one place to another.
We accepted it as a natural process...
of socialist construction.
Though, of course,
the situation here was,
I would say, like a prison camp.
When did they allow people
to go outside the city?
I don't remember exactly,
but, I think, after eight years.
My mom told me
people who were relocated to Ozersk
were considered missing by relatives.
Of course, there was a terrible secrecy.
They weren't allowed to leave town,
weren't allowed to write letters.
It was as if they disappeared
into oblivion.
People tortured by the war, famine,
prison camps
were brought to a place
that felt like paradise.
Suddenly there's food,
social life and entertainment.
Their silence was payment to the state
for a better life.
They created their own ideology,
"We're the saviors of the world,
creators of the nuclear shield."
This ideology is what keeps them
running to this day.
We lived like well-fed animals in a zoo.
We were provided everything.
I never wondered...
why it was like that
and nobody explained to me
why we were so lucky to live
such happy lives.
We had plenty of kielbasa, food,
sports clubs for kids, everything.
My father made
enough money to give
the family everything.
He could afford to give me
a ruble each day for food.
We had stacks of chocolate stored at home.
You bet.
That is why they called us
"Chocolate Kids."
I didn't tell my family...
where I was working, or what I was doing.
I always told my daughter that
I was working at a chocolate factory.
So I always had to buy good chocolates...
to bring her.
Let me tell you about
the resentment outsiders have,
calling us the "Chocolate People."
How privileged we are and so on.
I can say that in our ranks,
they were getting good money and still do.
We are used to it and this is how
we want to live.
The majority of people want it this way,
and I want it too.
Ozersk is a big city.
The friends of my parents
who lived in the city of Ozersk
told us that their life was different.
And I can think of one episode
when I was seven,
I was a first-grader at school.
They came to visit us,
our friends from Ozersk,
and they brought me a present.
It was a bunch of bananas.
For someone who grew up as a kid,
in the Soviet times,
in the city of Chelyabinsk,
a bunch of bananas was like...
a part of a fairy tale.
It was absolutely out of this world.
When I traveled outside our town,
I was shocked they had nothing
in their shops.
They had no bread,
no sausage, no milk.
They had empty shelves.
These people who lived
in the city of Ozersk,
they had things like caviar
and condensed milk,
which was really something rare
and something that every kid
in the Soviet Union dreamed about.
You need to understand what
the Soviet Union was like back then.
It was prestigious for those people
to be here.
They didn't feel restricted.
They had the best they'd need.
It was prestigious. They had the best.
Besides, scientists are obsessed
with what they do...
splitting atoms. If they're happy
with how the atoms split, they won't
notice anything else around them.
I can tell you an interesting story.
Not a story, a fact.
Once there was a spill of powder...
the radioactive kind of powder.
And my father, following party rules,
bent over and with no tools, nothing,
collected the powder with his hands.
My father died...
of lung cancer at the age of 55.
I think one of the factors
that contributed to it
was that he inhaled that powder.
My family moved
to City 40, now Ozersk.
There were many deaths.
We didn't know
the cause then and had not established
the connection.
But mostly people were dying
of carcinogenic diseases.
Of course, we did not suspect
that the town at that time...
was already...
unfit for humans.
Several of my young cousins
between the ages of 18-38.
Such were the stories.
In a way, it was a form of heroism.
This is one of those tragic cases
when people "burned" with enthusiasm.
But, the work had to be done.
Absorbed in the Cold War...
those working on their main task
of creating a nuclear shield...
They worked honestly,
in good faith, selflessly,
and were always proud
of belonging to this industry...
and proud of working
at the first nuclear power enterprise.
It was the demand of the time.
It was the period of the Cold War.
It wasn't us who instigated it.
I grew up in Ozersk.
I finished school in Ozersk.
When I was a little kid,
we had bomb shelters
in case of an emergency.
One bomb shelter
for every few residential buildings.
At school, starting from first grade,
they taught us how to use the shelters.
As they developed nuclear weapons...
the danger of a small-scale nuclear war
or accidental explosion became real,
and as nuclear plants developed,
a power plant accident was also possible.
I got a job with an experimental
scientific research station here.
It was a secret institute
to study the impact of radiation
on health and the environment.
For that year I was head
of the "Chernobyl Union" in Ozersk.
To the right...
is central block number four.
Wow, hold on that spot.
Hold where the smoke is!
An accident has occurred
at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
Steps are being taken
to deal with the situation,
and aid is being given to those affected.
My research, suddenly...
became relevant, in the wake
of the Chernobyl disaster,
when a large population
were living and farming
in a contaminated territory.
This expertise would be necessary
in case of a local nuclear war.
People need to eat,
they live in a radioactive zone.
So methods of survival have
to be worked out.
After that, I began working
in the organization "Planet of Hopes,"
with Nadezhda Kutepova in Ozersk.
We have a lesson today.
Will you take him? It's Wednesday.
Okay, bye.
Daddy is ill.
Finish your breakfast, get dressed.
Daddy says he's ill.
Both grandfathers of Nadezhda's son,
as well as his father,
spent more than a decade
working at Mayak.
As a result, the baby was born
with a weak immune system.
This is clearly a result
of long-term radiation impact.
His body was working in a way that
any food caused an allergy in this kid.
My third son had
a very serious skin disease from birth.
For the first two years of his life,
he was covered with scabs
and dermatologists
couldn't find the cause.
Now he's better
and again I don't know why.
What if my son marries a local girl
with three generations
of the same genetic problems?
What kind of grandchildren will I have?
I will do everything possible
to keep my kids from getting married
in Ozersk,
and from having children here.
When I worked at the research station,
a classmate was writing
her dissertation...
on the impact of radiation
on future generations.
I read her drafts
and there was a lot of data
on different types of diseases.
But when her dissertation was ready
and published as a book,
all the diseases were left out
and only allergies were left in.
There was definitely pressure
against publications
of long-term health effects
of radiation...
and how radiation affects children.
This was just not allowed.
My mother gave me detailed instructions,
when my baby was born...
about the streets,
I shouldn't go on when I took
the baby out for a walk.
For example, the bus stops
where workers from Mayak...
would disembark from work...
were to be avoided at all costs to keep
the radioactive dust from my home.
In the past, the town
had strict radiological
and sanitary controls.
And every street was thoroughly
washed on a certain day of the week.
Dry leaves were collected,
grass was mowed,
which helped cope
with small-scale aerial emissions.
The town was
under constant sanitary control.
You know, we had strict standards.
After getting a dose of radioactivity,
you had to leave the place,
take a break,
go to the smoking-room.
You weren't sent home because
transportation worked only
at a particular time.
So you went to do something else...
after working in the so-called
"dirty" place.
The only "safety valve" they had
was to go to a beer hall and sit
with a mug of beer.
Beer was considered to have
a therapeutic cleansing effect.
Now nobody cares anymore.
Radiation self-control skills are lost.
The new authorities do not do anything.
For the last five years,
I haven't seen them wash the streets,
or remove grass once.
You go in a car and you pass
a very spectacular chain
of beautiful lakes.
Like, one lake is beautiful, the next
one is even more beautiful,
but then the local people tell you
that this lake is nicknamed...
"The Lake of Death"
or a "Plutonium Lake",
because it is so heavily contaminated
with plutonium.
NO TRESPASSING EITHER BY CAR OR ON FOO During its early years of operation,
when the technology was new
and experimental,
nobody cared about what might happen
to the environment.
The workers weren't concerned,
because they were ordered
to build the nuclear bomb.
They did what they were ordered to do.
Nobody thought the waste
would be radioactive
for millions of years.
And so they just dumped...
the by-products of chemical reactions
into the river.
In the early 90s, when the information
about pollution and accidents appeared,
I thought, like a typical resident
of closed city,
everybody wants to close our good factory,
and we're the good people
who made the atomic bomb.
Later, when I met
ecologists from the green movement,
when I saw the documents with my own eyes,
when I saw government officials
who said totally different things
in public than what they told us...
I realized that it was all a lie.
The first major documented disaster
is officially called an accident.
But in fact it was a planned dumping
of highly radioactive waste
into the River Techa.
The second major accident happened
in 1957...
when an underground container
of liquid radioactive waste exploded.
This is where on the site of Mayak
on the quiet evening
of September 29, 1957,
a tank of liquid nuclear waste exploded.
The deadly radioactive cloud
began to move in a north-east direction.
As a result, a huge territory, 105 km long
and 9 km wide,
was contaminated with radionuclides,
Both people and animals became victims.
23 villages had to be destroyed.
More than 10,000 people
were evacuated to safe areas.
For how long can we stay in this place?
If we calculate...
using official daily norms...
20 seconds.
There is a radioactive river.
The village cattle
comes up to the river
and drinks its water.
If the cattle just drank,
it would get much less radionuclides.
But the cattle steps in the river,
mixing the sediment...
with the upper level of clear water.
The cattle drinks that water
and it gets into its milk.
People use that milk to make
dairy products...
and also drink it raw.
Of course, we didn't know anything
about this.
We used to swim and fish in that river.
I learned later that at some point
the International Atomic Energy Agency
discovered strontium in the Arctic Ocean.
And then the investigation found out...
where that strontium had come from.
They traced it
all the way back to the River Techa.
Officially, my father got 600 roentgen
of radiation from his work.
It's a very high dose.
My mother got 400 roentgen, officially.
My mother died at 62.
She got stomach cancer.
She underwent surgery, but died.
The third major accident took place
in 1967, when Lake Karachay...
where they were dumping
and are still dumping radioactive waste,
dried out
and created a dust storm
that contaminated a vast territory,
in particular, several villages
upon the River Techa.
The aftermath of Mayak's activities
is really disastrous.
One can say that Mayak was built on dead
and ruined human bodies.
You're coming back, right?
Certainly. I'll just see him out.
Nadezhda Kutepova
is not afraid of going against
the opinion of the majority
of people around her.
She was the first to see
violations of the law,
and human rights violations
in the treatment of people.
When I walk down the corridor
past her office,
I see people waiting to see her.
When I walk,
I see people.
People really trust her.
Ozersk is not included
in the list of towns polluted
by the 1957 disaster.
Officially, Ozersk was not affected.
Of course, that's not true
and everybody knows it.
The number of people the state
is ready to compensate
-is increasingly narrowing down.
-And we are dying.
This is their policy.
Recently, we got a visit from
a State Duma member.
And he said, "You are so many!"
I thought the problem
had already been resolved.
What does it mean,
"The problem has been resolved?
That everybody has died?"
Anyway, I have nothing good to tell you.
Thank you.
Good morning.
I'll tell you the situation now,
but, unfortunately,
I have nothing good to tell you.
The situation with the court cases
is at a dead end.
The committee is closed.
From tomorrow, they will not grant
anything to anyone.
People from closed cities
defend their rights in court
very unwillingly.
People are still afraid,
and they'll go...
to court only when they're
in deep despair.
Closed cities still resemble
the Soviet Union.
In the Soviet Union,
legal status of closed cities
was never defined.
The Soviet Union had come a long way
under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev.
He talked of perestroika or reform,
and glasnost, meaning
greater freedom of speech.
Mingling with the rush hour traffic,
Red Army armored personnel carriers
on the streets of Moscow this morning,
the first sign of the coup d'etat
that removed Mikhail Gorbachev from power.
Long live Yeltsin!
In the Yeltsin times,
around 1996,
things started to improve...
and go back to normal.
Order was reintroduced
and it was in those Yeltsin times
that Russia and its closed cities
began to restructure to get rid of
that old Soviet dust.
Let us stand firmly together.
The reactionary forces will not pass!
The closed cities got
their legal status in 1994
when, by governmental decree,
they were given public names.
Ozersk was officially named Ozersk
and these cities were put on the map.
But the state invented a clever way
to keep us in legal limbo.
We didn't think much about it,
but in 1994...
when our town received its legal status,
newborns received birth certificates
that stated Ozersk as their birthplace.
But everybody born in Ozersk before 1994
was officially listed
as born in Chelyabinsk.
They couldn't exclude the possibility
that a disaster
would wipe the town off the earth.
So they registered us in a way
that we could be erased legally
if necessary.
We asked the registry office
in Chelyabinsk to correct our birthplace,
but we weren't even listed
in their archives.
They said, "Sorry, you were not born
in our region."
-Can I come in?
People who registered place of birth
after 2005, they exist,
but hesitate to go to court
because there are no precedents.
You will make history
as the first person to file a lawsuit
in this situation,
and the court decision
in your case will be precedent
in other decisions.
So, I will be in history forever?
Forever, of course.
How else is history made, if not forever?
They may appeal,
but the probability is 70% against it.
I can't guarantee you 100%.
So, we just have to wait.
But, we've come a long way with you.
I've been coming here for a year already.
Let's hope they don't appeal.
Everything seems to be happening the way
I told you.
It's working.
Well, well.
She takes cases
that are difficult to resolve.
She takes to heart
the problems of other people
and volunteers to resolve them.
She's an amazing person
who makes everything her business.
There are only two such people,
myself and her.
Take care of your health.
Okay, lets go.
I have to make him kiss your hand, too.
I remember the wave of accusations,
after a case was opened against her.
That she did things wrongly,
that she went against the opinion
of the Ministry of Health,
against existing norms.
That she was taking cases
above and beyond her abilities.
But she did start to resolve them.
Ever since I began
my human rights activities
and began helping people
who live in the contaminated areas,
the authorities have been
persecuting me and my organization.
It was two years ago that the authorities
started putting pressure
on us at every step.
-We'll glue now. Sit.
Now we'll do cut outs.
There were constant checks
on our organization.
Year after year, they do tax inspections
on us,
just now they did a tax inspection.
The authorities constantly visit my home
and even visit my child in kindergarten.
Even our landlord asked
to terminate our lease.
He said, "I'm not against what you're
doing, and I would like you to stay."
"But I got a phone call asking me
to kick you out."
When someone goes public,
it's much easier to declare him
an enemy and fight him,
instead of trying to change something
in the system.
-I made it first.
-Yes, I heard that.
Today, Mayak produces isotopes
for the medical and space industries.
But they're still doing something
for the country's defense
and that's state secret.
There are 14,000 people working at Mayak.
If we multiply that by three,
counting a wife and a grown-up child,
that's 42,000 people
related to the facilities.
Plus 28,000 pensioners.
So, there are 60,000 people
who are connected with Mayak
and informed about its activities.
Most of those who work at Mayak,
at weapons production,
they work with state secrets.
Each of them has
an FSB officer
who records their private lives.
Where they go, who they meet,
how much money they spend, what they buy.
They check everything.
That means that in fact
it's only about thought control.
The core of their job is
to silence dissidents.
To silence dissidents,
not to care about efficient security.
We have the FSM unit at Mayak.
Our troops...
special troops...
guard the sealed perimeter.
And this setup
is checked annually
by designated inspections
that make sure everything is secure
and kept in proper shape.
If, for example,
you find out...
that the polonium used
in the Litvinenko assassination
in the U.K.
came from Mayak,
you can be almost 100% sure
the material was...
released via the security gates,
and it was sanctioned
by the top management of Mayak. 100% sure.
Former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko
was killed
by radioactive poisoning leading to
a clouding of relations
between London and Moscow.
The polonium trail across London
implies that he was poisoned
by polonium 210
that was slipped into his tea.
Whoever killed Litvinenko
would have expected him to die
in a few days.
It was only because he died
three weeks later
that the doctors had the chance
to discover the truth.
If someone comes here with a suitcase
full of cash,
they will pick up the phone and ask,
"Mr. Putin, can we do this?"
Money would not matter in it.
This is not measured in money anymore.
People need to know what's being done,
what risks are involved.
After the Mayak disaster of 1957
and the Chernobyl disaster of 1986,
Russians have learned
not to trust the state.
In some cases society is right,
because once you lie
nobody will believe you.
Historical memories are
a very important component
of our culture, our history,
our lives. And of course, we should
also consider the future.
I'd like to remind you,
Russia is one of the biggest
nuclear powers.
This is not just words, this is real,
and we are strengthening our forces
of nuclear containment.
They are more compact now,
but they're also more efficient.
They're more modern.
They have modern weaponry.
This is not to threaten anybody.
This is just for us to feel protected.
We do not want it,
and we aren't going to do it.
Of course, we should always be ready
to repel any aggression,
any attack on Russia,
regardless of the situation
our partner nations are in.
They should always realize
they would be better off
not messing with us.
I love my motherland,
this small piece of land which is my home.
I hate this government that exists
on my land.
I love these trees, these mushrooms,
this water, the fish in it.
But I can't be at peace with this regime.
I can't live with this.
It is difficult for me to imagine
that the state, the authorities,
still allow people to live in that area.
Because, I mean, this...
This is really a nightmare.
And I really feel about...
I think there is a certain "blindness"
in our people.
A certain pride...
not unexplainable.
"We are special,
we are from a closed city..."
In fact, they are ordinary people,
nothing special.
In reality, it's difficult to leave
and I faced that myself.
If you account for the opinions
of many people
and, as a journalist, I speak with many,
people always want to have stability.
"It may be for the better,
it may be for the worse,
but for now just leave us alone, please.
Let me live quietly."
I always had an inner desire
to break free
from this confinement.
Unfortunately, as fate would have it,
this town won't let me go.
No matter how many times I try to leave,
seemingly forever,
fate keeps bringing me back.
Of course, I worry about my safety,
but I don't know what to do about that.
I want to go on helping the people
who everybody else has turned away.
We will work behind enemy lines,
like our partisans did in World War II.