By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – From Wednesday, May 14th through May 25th, Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Modern Art will host the fourth edition of the International Uranium Film Festival (IUFF). Dubbed the “Atomic Cannes,” the festival focuses on all things nuclear and features screenings of 63 films from 25 countries.
Originating in the Rio neighborhood of Santa Teresa, the festival began as an attempt to increase, through films, public awareness about nuclear power, uranium mining, nuclear weapons and the health effects of radioactivity.
“We founded [the festival] in 2010, about a year before Fukushima,” Norbert G. Suchanek, General Director of the Uranium Film Festival told The Rio Times. “I knew that there were many important films about nuclear power and uranium but that nobody could see them. They were not shown on television or screened in big festivals. So we had to create our own festival; a festival for nuclear and atomic filmmakers.”
IUFF received and screened submissions from around the globe. Strengthened by the growing interest in and concern about nuclear energy and the support for spreading awareness both locally and internationally, the festival eventually began to travel the world.
“We held the first International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro during May 2011. Today we are a global festival, with Uranium Film Festivals in the USA, Germany, India,” said Suchanek. “We had festivals in Washington DC, in New York City, in Munich, Berlin, New Delhi and Mumbai and the demand for the festival is growing every day. In October, we will return to Berlin and in December this year we will go to Amman, Jordan. It will be the first Uranium Film Festival in the Middle East.”
For the Rio edition of the festival this year there are several standout films. Yumiko Hayakawa’s “A Woman from Fukushima” is a 2014 Japanese mid-length documentary that explores the clean-up in Fukushima, Japan and the after effects of the nuclear disaster that occurred there in 2011.
Director Ian Thomas Ash’s documentary, “A2-B-C” also focuses on Fukushima and the health effects many children in the area experienced due to radiation exposures. Director Alessandro Tesei additionally focused his lens on Fukushima and the environmental effects of the disaster with “Fukushame: The lost Japan.”
Australian director Lawrence Johnston’s film “Fallout” documents the destruction caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the writings of novelist Nevil Shute, who predicted in his mid-20th century works that mismanagement of nuclear energy would one day have a devastating impact.
There are also notable shorts in the festival; Norwegian director Espen Rasmussen’s eight-minute; “To Dig Or Not to Dig: the Battle for Greenland” and Bindu Mathur’s 25-minute piece, “The Radioactive Boy Scout.”
“All people are in some way involved in nuclear power. Either as taxpayer […] or as a user of electricity,” said Suchanek when explaining why he felt the festival was important to audiences. “People are involved because they live close to a nuclear power plant, an uranium mine or a nuclear waste dump; because they eat radioactive contaminated fish from the Pacific; or because they work in one of the hundreds of hospitals with radiation therapy units.”
“All people simply must know what is going on around them,” Suchanek, who is also a journalist, writer, filmmaker and director of the Yellow Archives, continued, adding, “And the best way to inform them is through entertainment. If the scrap metal dealer in Goiânia in September 1987 would have been informed about the risks of radioactivity and the risks of radioactive Cesium 137, the ‘Brazilian Chernobyl’, the radioactive accident in Goiânia would not have happened. Hundreds of people were contaminated and many are still suffering today.”
For a complete listing of the films and schedule of the screening see the IUFF Rio 2014 Program.
What: International Uranium Film Festival
When: May 14th to 25th, 2014
Where: Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM) Av. Infante Dom Henrique 85, Parque do Flamengo
Entrance: See website for more information.