This Valentine’s Day, the International Uranium Film Festival attracted many concerned New Yorkers to 6 days of eye-opening films about the devastating impact of the nuclear fuel cycle. At the Pavilion Theater in Brooklyn, Peace Boat US has been supporting this epoch-making event since its opening on February 14th.
During the festival, various speakers and filmmakers spoke to the audience, including:
Norbert G. Suchanek: Journalist, writer, filmmaker, director of the Uranium Film Festival & Yellow Archives
Marcia Gomes de Oliveira: Executive Director of the Uranium Film Festival, Social Scientist, Documentary Filmmaker& Artivist
Shri Prakash: Filmmaker & Activist from India
Pradeep Indulkar: Filmmaker & Activist from India
Each film, unique in style, perspective and motivation, focused on a different area affected by the nuclear fuel production cycle. The films confront viewers with the realization that we all share the same threat to humanity, the biosphere and the atmosphere. The documentaries impart a sense of responsibility for the negative heritage we are imparting to future generations. We are all equally subject to the ramifications of nuclear runoff.
At the entrance of the theater lies an information desk where audience and visitors of other movies can ask questions, obtain general information on local and global nuclear issues, and buy original T-shirts and stickers. Please take advantage of this setting and learn some more.
Here is a report of our volunteer staff Rachel Clark who went there this Sunday and Monday:
Living in Metropolitan New York area, we often only see the threat of nuclear power plants to local residents, whose stances are from the viewpoint of both energy consumers and (potential) victims. At the Pavilion Theater, however, many audience members were shocked by the chaotic situation at the uranium production sites. Scenes depicting uranium mining workers in India and Africa working without any protective gear, bulldozers generating radioactive dusts and mounds of radioactive dirt in order to obtain just a handful of yellow cake—the extracted pure form of uranium— and radioactive toxic waste being dumped into rivers, ponds, and open air left a lasting impact.
FOR THE SUPREME FIGHT (GERE DAN), a film directed by Shriprakash, explores the “clean and healthy” image of energy life in France, where nearly 80 percent of the country’s electricity comes from nuclear energy. The film reveals that France still exploits its former African colonies. Government owned nuclear company ARIVA’s business operation is investigated from the perspective of both a French expat’s family and local employees/residents. With minimal warning and disclosure about the nuclear threat to its workers and local residents, ARIVA’s uranium mining sites and surrounding villages are infested with environmental destruction, diseases, miscarriages, infertility, and birth defects. An investigative journalist visits abandoned mines, local villages, and scrap markets selling radioactive equipment used in old mines. The nuclear runoff has infected rivers and ponds where local people quench their thirst, wash their clothes, and bathe themselves and their babies. Each time the journalist in the film takes out his Geiger counter, it reveals shocking results. In developed countries such as France, people are all supposed to be covered with protective gear from head to toe in the high radiation levels observed, however people in its former colonies depicted in the film are unprotected, abandoned, and often forgotten afterwards.
In one clip of a film entitled HIGH POWER directed and produced by Pradeep Indulkar, residents in an Indian fishing village were persuaded to agree with the construction of a nuclear reactor in their area, with promises of prosperity to the local economy, job opportunity, construction of hospitals, and schools. Not only did the energy company not deliver on its promise, they also ignored their environmental responsibility. The fish disappeared from the polluted ocean, and just like the uranium mining villages in Africa, local residents suffered with many incidents of miscarriages, birth defects, infertility, cancers, skin diseases, on top of all the other social issues that are threatening their survival (Shrinking population, stagnant economy, no job security, lack of education, inadequate medical facilities, unsafe food supply and malnourished children who cannot support an aging population) How does society expect them to survive in this situation?
The atrocity in Fukushima, including the suffering of affected people, environmental destruction, and media control by nuclear companies with governmental collaboration, is not a unique incident only in a small Asian archipelago. This film festival teaches us that it is a globally ubiquitous story just like the globalized fast food industry. As long as we live in this contemporary civil society, there will always be energy produced, delivered, and consumed. Each one of us is a constituent of this nuclear cycle and we all are responsible for the negative heritage for our future generations.
When you come home from the theater and turn on the light, the same space suddenly looks different. Please try to feel this moment by visiting Pavilion Theater. The Uranium Film Festival is going strong until Wednesday, Feb 19th. Make sure that you do not miss this opportunity to learn about these important issues through film.
The list below shows the featured films that were shown throughout the festival :
This post was created by Rachel Clark, Peace Boat US Volunteer Staff.