Waiting "as if for God," two Russian sailors, Marina and Sascha, look forward to the ice-free season on Lake Baikal, where they transport coal on their barge. They take loads on board in Kultuk, and unload them in Barguzin, where they live. This is a precarious business, and they depend on the orders they receive, of which there are fewer and fewer. This would however be the perfect job for Sascha, the silent captain, and Marina, who's occasionally compared to a seal. She loves the lake, she even loves the storms. During their trips the two work together without quarreling. Story of two individuals who don't have an easy life, though they don't complain.
They are not just awake; they live at night and with the night. Night Shifts is a portrait of an alternative world. The film follows the trails of people in Berlin who are invisible during the day, accompanying them on their nocturnal paths through the metropolis, which are marked by pragmatic routine, desires, and dangers. "It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light." (Thelonious Monk)
Pripyat is the name of a town that is located five kilometres from the Russian nuclear power station Chernobyl. Until 1986, the year of the catastrophe, it had some 50,000 inhabitants; today it is a deserted and heavily guarded ghost town. The power station itself is partly operational again, but the workers are no longer living within walking distance of the plant. They go to work by bus every day. Around the nuclear station, a safety radius of 30 kilometres may have been created, but nobody knows the exact influence and consequences of the radioactive radiation. Some farmers in the area have stayed, and just keep growing and eating potatoes. An elderly couple got permission to go back. They have now been living safe and sound in the vicinity of the plant for 12 years.Strange as it may be, in this beautifully framed black-and-white film by the Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter, the region takes on an almost idyllic aura. Former residents of Pripyat who still work at the power station, think back wistfully about the old days. Too many questions have remained unanswered, while life and nature just seem to go on. Radiation or no radiation.