Deep in Russia, there is an invisible city that houses thousands of men, women and children who live and work behind double barbed-wire fences monitored by armed guards. They are told that they are the creators of the nuclear shield and saviors of the world. They are told that everyone is an enemy. In this hidden world, a mother risks her life to take us inside Russia's largest nuclear city.
Behind the walls of a forbidden city, the only thing more dangerous than its secrets is the truth.
Did You Know?
There are a series of intertitles throughout the film which read:
- To keep their location hidden from the enemy, Mayak and City 40 were not placed on any map.
- "Plutonium Lake" feeds into the Techa River, which is the region's main water source and one of the most contaminated places on Earth.
- Half a million people living in the Ozersk region have been exposed to five times the amount of radiation as those affected by Chernobyl.
- After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia's secret cities were suddenly recognized as places on the map.
- Mayak stores an estimated 50 tons of weapons-grade plutonium and 38 tons of highly enriched uranium.
- Since her last interview, Nadezhda Kutepova was interrogated by the Russian secret police under their "foreign agent" law.
At around 43:40 into the documentary, the second lake identified as "Lake Irtyash" appears to actually be Lake Karachay (which as of 2017 has been completely filled in). The dump truck dumping shown was likely not dumping solid radioactive waste as implied, but was part of the effort to fill in and cover the lake to prevent radiation from escaping. See more
Herself (human rights lawyer)
My name is Nadezhda Kutepova and I'm a native of Ozersk. I was born here. We were told we live in a secret place. There were spies all over, sneaking around, gathering information. My mother used to warn me, 'Darling, never say where you are from or a Black Mariah will takes away and you'll never see your parents again. Let state secrets stay secret.'