Chernobyl Oscar Win

By Irish America Staff
April / May 2004

Illuminating the plight of the victims of the Chernobyl disaster, filmmaker Maryann DeLco took home an Oscar for Chernobyl Heart, which won Best Short Subject Documentary.

Chernobyl Heart is a film about the effects of radiation on the children of Belarus 16 years after the accident at Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor. It features the work of the Chernobyl Children’s Project, an Irish organization set up by Adi Roche in 1991. When she received her Oscar, DeLco said that Roche should be up on stage with her.

DeLco shot the film over a two-year period in Belarus, the country most seriously contaminated by the Chernobyl accident. It documents the terrible effects of radiation and the high levels of cancer, birth defects, and heart conditions suffered by the region’s children.

Chemobyl Children’s Project has delivered over Euro50 million in direct and indirect humanitarian and medical aid to the Chernobyl region, providing life-saving operations, and taking children — approximately 1,200 each year — out of their contaminated environment for a summer holiday with a host family in Ireland.

After DeLeo’s Academy win, Adi Roche said, “It is a very great honor for our organization to be associated with an Oscar-winning documentary. We hope that the exposure gained for this great win will help re-focus attention on the continuing desperate plight of the victims and survivors of the Chernobyl disaster.”

Chernobyl Children’s Project has long been supported by Ali Hewson, Bono’s wife, and by U2 — notably with the release of the single “The Sweetest Thing” in 1998. ♦

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