By Madison Roche
Loyola University Chicago’s student organization, Amnesty International, recently held a screening for the documentary, “Chernobyl Heart,” to raise money for the children affected by the nuclear disaster.
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear power plant explosion that occurred on April 26, 1986 in the Ukraine. The explosion and fires released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere causing the city of Pripyat, and eventually neighboring cities, to evacuate.
The documentary “Chernobyl Heart” focused on the children who were physically affected by the radioactive chemicals and the children who are born today with birth defects caused by the highly radioactive areas that are still contaminated and the chemicals their parents are carrying in their bodies.
“More than 2,000 villages in the area demolished,” and the “infant mortality rate is 300 percent higher in [neighboring village] Belarus than in the rest of Europe,” according to the documentary.
About 40 people showed up to watch “Chernobyl Heart.” The documentary proved difficult to watch for most of the audience.
“I wanted to learn more about the Chernobyl disaster because on a personal level, my mom and I know someone who was effected by the incident, she and her mother, and knowing their past I wanted to see what, if anything has changed since then.” said Elena Tardella, 20, sophomore studying French and advertising public relations. “The documentary was very informative but also extremely sad. The lives of these children are very deeply affected by this horrible incident. A lot of these children will unfortunately die from not being able to afford treatment for their ailments caused by Chernobyl.”
Amnesty International’s leaders were pleased with the outcome but anxious to show the graphic documentary.
“I could tell that a lot of people were touched by the film, and me too, which is what we were trying to do. We were anxious about showing the film because it can be pretty graphic and as a club we decided to skip over one part that was particularly graphic but we decided as a group that this is something people need to know and this documentary was perfect for that,” said Jeronimo Anaya Ortiz, Amnesty’s events coordinator.
“I’d seen the documentary before so I knew it was going to be difficult to watch but that’s what I think makes it so important. I think with a documentary that seeks to raise awareness about a problem that needs to be talked about like this, sometimes you do need to show these shocking images. But it also shed a light of hope that there are organizations such as Children of Chernobyl who are working to end this tragedy.”
Some people were not as pleased with the film’s graphic images.
“I wanted to support my roommate who is in the club and donate some money to a pretty decent organization. However, I thought the film was pretty weak and that it didn’t explain anything very well. It was mostly just a way for the producers to guilt trip people into donating money to her cause instead of actually explaining what happened,” said Stan Warcholek, 21, a junior studying biology physics and physics.
Amnesty International is a new club on campus founded by Francesca a 20-year-old sophomore double majoring in services and sociology. She was happy with the turn out and extremely grateful for the donations of over $200 that they raised to be sent to the non-profit Children of Chernobyl.