Yulia, Alesia and Olya are three Belarusian sisters. They grew up in perfect harmony with their environment where they continue to live, engaging in fishing and subsistence farming. Daria Yurkevich frames this innocent existence magnificently, in a “paradise” located... not far from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
In Chemerisy, a remote part of Belarus, time follows the rhythm of subsistence activities (fishing, tenant farming...). It is in this beautiful countryside that Yulia, Alesia and Olya grew up, nonchalantly...next to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Despite the early death of their father from a disease as sudden as it was strange, the teenagers, who did not experience the explosion of the reactor—briefly evoked in their history lesson—do not seem to be aware of the threat of radioactivity. This becomes more tangible at times, when adults talk of the cancers that continue to appear. And then the family has to move to an apartment, further away... Through meticulous mise en scène, Daria Yurkevich sows clues that gradually shake the image of this contaminated “paradise”, soon lost to the young girls. She composes a melancholic symphony that recounts the end of innocence and, through it, that of belief, carried away in spring 1986, by a “new man” who made himself master of Nature, before irredeemably contaminating its beauty.