The Russian Woodpecker follows the warm and spirited artist Fedor Alexandrovich’s quest to uncover the truth behind the nuclear disaster in his hometown of Chernobyl. Previous attempts to do so have been met with stubborn obstacles—political ones that often border on the sinister. Braving contempt of the state, Alexandrovich and his cohorts interview former Soviet officials and slowly piece together fragments of evidence that boil down the horrific event to a banality: the cowardice of a Muscovite bureaucrat. With the finish line in sight, there is increasing pressure from loved ones to abandon a project that could put him in serious danger. Against the backdrop of a burgeoning revolution, the story of Ukraine’s Soviet legacy finds an uncomfortable parallel in Alexandrovich’s moral dilemma to choose between truth and family. Filmmaker Chad Gracia’s grand jury prizewinner at Sundance moves deftly between portraiture and frontline journalism to show the devastating impact of political oppression.