There is no place like Norilsk. The Russian mining center is the northernmost city in the world, with a population over 100,000. Resting within the Arctic Circle in central Siberia, what was once home to some of the deadliest GULAGs in the Soviet Union is now home to the Norilsk Nickel complex, which produces enough toxic fumes to kill plant material for hundreds of miles. The winters in Norilsk can last 9 months and the temperature can drop as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no roads out of Norilsk.
This is the city that filmmaker Victoria Fiore convinced the Russian government to let her visit. After a dozen failed attempts, Moscow granted Fiore a special visa. Below is the footage she returned with (originally presented by the New York Times’ Op-Docs). Despite living in one of the most polluted cities on Earth, many residents are still proud to call Norilsk home.