AUSTRALIAN ATOMIC CONFESSIONS (Gregory Young, Kathy Aigner). 50 minutes. Some subtitles. Screens as part of the PLANET IN FOCUS INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL FILM & VIDEO FESTIVAL Friday (November 3), 7 pm. See Indie & Rep Film, page 82. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Australian Atomic Confessions, part of the Planet In Focus film festival, isn't quite as explosive as it could be.
Between 1952 and 1963 the British government tested a dozen nuclear bombs and approximately 600 atomic bombs in remote areas of southern Australia.
This hour-long documentary chronicles the fallout from those tests on the unsuspecting Aborigine population living in those areas and the clueless young Aussie workers and servicemen helping out on the tests.
Among the findings are abnormally high rates of cancer among the survivors. Worse, there's no compensation for them - or official recognition - by the Australian government.
Employing actual footage of many of the explosions and a series of interviews with scientists, victims and their families, the filmmakers provide a straight-on approach to the material. Strangely, there's no attempt to talk to the bureaucrats, and too little is made of the disappearance of 15,000 hospital files of people exposed to radiation.
The use of cheesy sci-fi music sets an odd tone.
What saves it is a fascinating look at Aboriginal culture, and a look at more recent protests to protect the same remote area from becoming a nuclear waste dump.