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K-19 Film Premieres at Mariinsky Theater

Published: October 8, 2002 (Issue # 810)


The film "K-19: The Widowmaker," about a Soviet nuclear submarine that suffered a deadly reactor failure in the North Atlantic in 1961, drew mixed reviews on the weekend from some of its most knowledgeable critics - the crew of the boat itself.

Fifty-two veterans and widows of the crew of the submarine were flown in from across Russia and Ukraine to attend the Russian premiere of the film at a gala event at the Mariinsky Theater on Sunday. After the screening, they praised the film for the heroism portrayed by the actors, but took issue with what they described as a large number of inaccuracies.

"I'm very thankful to the American filmmakers who finally reflected the heroism of the K-19 sailors, who had to keep silent about the accident for decades," said Vladimir Pogorelov, who served as the chief of the electrical engineering group on the sub.

Yuri Mukhin, another K-19 veteran, agreed, calling the movie "impressive." He said that the film affected him to such a degree that he had to take a heart pill during the screening.

The K-19 (later given the nickname "Hiroshima" by Russian sailors) was the first Soviet sub to carry ballistic missiles and was on its first training voyage in neutral waters in the North Atlantic in July 1961, when the coolant system for its nuclear reactor began to leak, causing a rise in reactor-core temperature, and threatening a meltdown and the possible detonation of its missiles.

The danger posed by the accident was extreme. An explosion so close to NATO bases could have provoked a NATO response, ultimately leading to a nuclear confrontation during the Cold War.

But the severe crisis was averted by the actions of the submarine's captain, Nikolai Zateyev, and the crew of 139, who remained aboard the vessel to repair the coolant system, ultimately exposing themselves to severe doses of radiation. Eight of the submariners died within two weeks of the episode, and 12 more died over the next two years. A large number of the remainder suffered longer-term sickness and disability.

Big-name producer Kathryn Bigalow ("Point Break," "The Weight of Water") of Intermedia Films took the ship's story as the material for her next blockbuster film, which was budgeted at $90 million.

The film stars Harrison Ford as Zateyev.

Bigalow, who was on hand for the premiere, along with co-star Liam Neeson, explained the draw of the story for herself and U.S. audiences.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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