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Remembering the Impact of Chernobyl, 33 Years Later

By Rebecca Shafer

The miniseries’ cast and crew gathered among U.N. delegates, ambassadors, and guests to observe International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day.

On April 26, 1986, Europe was struck by unimaginable tragedy. A nuclear accident in Pripyat, Ukraine sent a ripple effect across the Soviet Union, threatening the continent’s environment and its people. The five-part miniseries Chernobyl, debuting May 6 at 9 pm, revisits the story of this horrific incident — of the heroic men and women who sacrificed everything to keep the catastrophe contained, and of the aftermath that defines the area to this day.

Thirty-three years later, at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the miniseries’ cast and crew gathered among U.N. delegates, ambassadors, and guests to observe International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day. The mood was somber, as passionate voices spoke to the accident’s relevance, as well as the importance of keeping it within the globe’s collective consciousness. Here are five powerful takeaways from those who brought the show to life, as well as those who represent Chernobyl’s victims.

Kary Antholis: President, HBO Films and Miniseries:

“Five years ago, when Craig Mazin presented one of the most compelling story pitches I’ve heard in my 25 years as a television executive, our entire team at HBO agreed that if we could protect the purity of his mission and purpose, the resulting story could tell posterity that the tragedy of Chernobyl was experienced by people who could be any of us.”

Craig Mazin, Miniseries Executive Producer, Writer:

“These were no longer unimaginable, gray citizens of an enemy state — they were men and women and children who perished as a direct result of the explosion. They were hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and Belarusians who would be displaced and made sick. All of them, just like us, some of them were children my age. Some of them are not with us now.”

Adi Roche, Founder of Chernobyl Children International:

“The upcoming miniseries is helping us all to see Chernobyl with fresh eyes, ears, hearts, understanding, and with fresh compassion and solidarity, retelling the story as you do to a new and wider audience like never before. It truly, truly honors and gives justice to the many, many victims and the heroes of Chernobyl.”

Jane Featherstone, Founder of Sister Pictures:

“In Europe, the name Chernobyl carries so much history with it, and we were all affected in varying degrees. Our ability to now bring the story of immense human suffering and sacrifice to a wider global audience has been made possible by the many European and American people involved in the making of our show.”

Craig Mazin, Miniseries Executive Producer, Writer:

“In telling this story, I wanted to show everyone the incredible spirit, courage and will of the people. Out of duty, honor, and loyalty to their loved ones, their neighbors and their homeland, they threw themselves at an open nuclear reactor. They came face-to-face with it, flew above it, swam below it, tunneled into it and gave their lives to it. And in doing so, saved the lives of countless others.”

Chernobyl premieres May 6 at 9 pm.

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