After the Apocalypse
Bibigul is a young pregnant woman with what local doctors call a "frightful, defected face." She is the daughter of Biken, a deformed survivor of a Cold War experiment where 456 nuclear weapons were secretly tested on the population of Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. While the KGB encouraged locals to fish and swim in the radioactive crater lakes, their doctors analysed the results. Today, some of those doctors are still there, determined to use their results for good. Meanwhile sheep still graze on the craters and in the most affected villages 1 in 23 children are born with a birth defect.
Dr Toleukhan Nurmagambetov is the head of the city’s maternity clinic and wants the area's horrific cycle of birth deformities to end. His solution: a genetic passport which will prevent descendants of the original survivors carrying suspect genes from giving birth.
Bibigul is sent to Dr Nurmagambetov for further analysis, but despite Nurmagambetov’s judgement that the child will likely be born with Down’s syndrome and his pleas for her to get an abortion, Bibigul vows to keep her child. Convinced the area is in the midst of a “genetic apocalypse”, Nurmagambetov calls for the law to be changed. But are genetic policies that can only be described as eugenic really necessary? Will Bibigul’s child be born healthy or not?
The premiere was held on the 11th May in London at the Prince Charles Cinema followed by a discussion with Baroness Helena Kennedy, former head of the Human Genetics Commission, and Steve Wilkinson, Professor of Medical Ethics at Keele University.