Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro

By Candy Pilar Godoy, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian government recently renewed plans for a nuclear power plant, set to be constructed in Rio de Janeiro state. The plant, named Angra III, will join the state’s two other active nuclear power plants, Angra I and Angra II. In the face Japan’s recent disaster and subsequent melt-down of three plants, Germany announced plans to stop the operation of all nuclear power plants by 2022, and nuclear energy is a hot topic around the world.

The film Der Uranberg (The Mountain of Uranium), Germany, 2010, Directed by Dror Zahavi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News

The film Der Uranberg (The Mountain of Uranium), Germany, 2010, Directed by Dror Zahavi, image recreation.

News of the radioactive activity just outside the Cidade Maravilhosa is unbeknownst to many, but that is changing. Concerned citizens have joined forces to bring awareness, and created the first annual Uranium Film Festival, Latin America’s first ever film festival centered around nuclear energy, uranium, and radioactive hazards.

Fifteen featured documentaries and movies, as well as nineteen short films, from a range of fourteen countries including Brazil, the United States, Germany, South Africa, and Costa Rica, were screened for audiences in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa. The films covered a variety of topics within the realm of nuclear activity, including the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear ship accidents, and uranium mining.

“Since the 1940s, the Brazilian government has sought nuclear technology and reactors to make nuclear submarines,” explains Urânio em Movi(e)mento director Márcia Gomes de Oliveira, “The population is totally misinformed.”

The festival, which ran from May 16th to May 28th, hoped to educate the Brazilian, Latin American and Portuguese-speaking communities about nuclear and radioactive issues. The films, mainly in French, English, and German, were subtitled in Portuguese, and filed into the Yellow Archive, the first-ever film library in Brazil and Latin America dedicated to environmental films.

“There are already many movies about nuclear energy and uranium mining on the atomic bombs and weapons of uranium, but these documentaries were never translated and displayed in Brazil,” stated Oliveira. “We want to change that reality.”

Besides the films, a photo exhibition was displayed featuring images of the worst nuclear accident in Latin American history, Caesium 137, in the Brazilian city of Goiânia in 1987, as well as a collection of global anti-nuclear posters created in the last forty years.

Césio 137, O brilho da morte (The brightness of death), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News

Césio 137, O brilho da morte (The brightness of death), directed by Luiz Eduardo Jorge, promotion image.

The festival arrived in Rio at a crucial time. In 2012 Rio will host Rio+20, a major U.N. conference centered on sustainable development. Hundreds of heads of state will arrive to bring global attention to a plethora of environmental issues.

By highlighting the dangers of radioactivity, and exposing environmental and health risks attached to uranium mining and processing, organizers hope to create discourse among the public in preparation for the earth summit. The festival stands as an important vehicle for thought on the green state of the country and planet as a whole.

“This is important for society,” warns Oliviera, “Everyone is affected by the consequences of the nuclear industry…radioactivity does not respect borders or barriers.”

At the end of the festival, best short and best feature film will be announced. Brazil’s own short documentary Césio 137 – O brilho da morte (Cesium 137 – The brightness of death) is a finalist. Made in 2003, the film highlights the 1987 nuclear accident in Goiânia. “It is a striking film”, declared Professor João Luiz Leocádio, a professor of Film and Video at University Federal Fluminense.

After Rio, the film festival will continue-on and travel to select cities in Brazil, including São Paulo, Recife, and Salvador.

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