This Week’s Featured Interviews:
With the International Uranium Film Festival running online May 20-30 – and free – we bring you interviews with two of the filmmakers. A third interview will run on next week’s show, #518. Register to watch at: www.UraniumFilmFestival.org. Click on the Rio 2021 link.
The two films and directors featured on this week’s show are:
- In My Lifetime: The Nuclear World Project – Director Robert E. Frye is an Emmy award-winning producer of network news programs and independent documentaries for over five decades. Starting in the ’60s the Emmy and Peabody Award winner worked in New York City; Toronto; Washington, D.C.and London. His credits at ABC News include Executive Producer of “Good Morning America” and “ABC World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings; senior Producer at CBC’s Weekend, and as an independent producer of several films for public television which include “In My Lifetime” At the age of 81, Frye said, the obligation of his generation is to tell the story of nuclear weapons, to make clear the indescribable damage they have caused and their potential to end life on the planet entirely. We spoke on Friday, May 14, 2021.
- LINK to The Nuclear World Project.
Albert Einstein (l) and Leo Szilard. Screen shot from
IN MY LIFETIME: THE NUCLEAR WORLD PROJECT, a film by Robert E. Frye,
part of the International Uranium Film Festival
- ATOMIC COVER-UP – Director Greg Mitchell is the award-winning author of a dozen books including 2020’s “The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood–and America–Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” His previous books on the atomic bombings were “Hiroshima in America“ (with Robert Jay Lifton) and “Atomic Cover-up.” He has served as chief adviser to several documentaries, including “Original Child Bomb,” screened at Cannes and winner of the top prize at API/Silverdocs, His current film, ATOMIC COVER-UP, was released in April, 2021. We spoke on Saturday, May 15.
Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness):
Sloppy reporting, sloppy editing, bogus story – the depths to which some “reporters” will go to get out an eye-catching story on TEPCO’s release of radioactive water from Fukushima into the Pacific ocean!
Activist Shout-out Link:
- Petition by the Lakota Nation to reverse government approval of uranium mining permints, water quality exemptions for new mining on Lakota lands.
Nuclear naivete. Isn’t it cute when people who should know better just don’t get how deadly dangerous and all encompassing nuclear weapons are the existential threat to life on earth of them and how the use of even one should be unthinkable. But isn’t well, when the distributor of a powerful film on nuclear weapons manages to ask the filmmaker, who is your film for said, filmmaker, who is also an award-winning journalist and author with more than five decades of impeccable credentials gets to answer.
That’s a classic question in terms of anything that’s produced. Who’s the audience. I said everyone, because it affects everyone. Anyone in the world will be impacted by this. If there ever is any nuclear conflict and it will change dramatically, the world that we live in today.
Yup. Well, when you hear a powerful articulate award-winning journalist who is committed to telling the difficult nuclear message with clarity, grace, and commitment to say nothing of directing an inescapably important film, then you begin to gain hope because we have powerful allies who also oppose nuclear and are working to help get us out of that terrible seat that we all share
Clear hot seat. What are those people thinking, Claire? Hotsy what have those boys been breaking their hot seat? The Ms. Sinking our time to act is shrinking, but nuclear Hotsy. It’s the bomb.
Welcome to nuclear hot seat, the weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Leiby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we spotlight the international uranium film festival running May 20th to 30th, online and free. And this week we will feature two of three interviews with filmmakers featured in the festival. First, we talk with Robert E. Frye, an award-winning journalist and director of several films, including in my lifetime, the nuclear world project. Then Greg Mitchell and award winning author and documentarian gives us the background on atomic coverup, which for the first time reveals film footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bomb, some of it in color, and some of it that was shot as early as the day after the atomic bomb was dropped, we will also have numnuts of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information than Arizona will ever come up with. No matter how many times they audit the 2020 election, all of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, May 28th, 2021. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective. Actually the new segment this week was sacrificed in order to make room for the interviews next week, we’re going to do a Roundup and catch up with news stories from the past month that haven’t made it onto the show, but I could not let a week pass without our ode to nuclear bone headedness news.
I’m like a recent article that has been smeared across the internet is headlined scientists approved Japan’s plan to dump 1 million tons of Fukushima nuclear waste in Pacific ocean. Say what? But look closer. First of all, it’s 1.5 million tons with more being added every day. The headline sites scientists, plural when only one scientist is quoted in this article, how long and hard did report her precious Smith’s search to find one scientist in Belgium who will back up Japan’s and Tepsco’s CO’s falsely reassuring narrative. What is his background? Who funds him? What strictures or expectations are placed upon his communications by his financial overlords and why pass off his early comment? This is something that we should be very concerned about. Morph into the reporter saying as though citing the scientist, nothing in the plan gives a suggestion that the treated water will comprise levels of radiation more than the background levels found in the environment due to natural processes.
I don’t have the time to unpack how much is wrong with that. No mention of the dangerous difference between internal and external contamination or bioaccumulation of radiation, the food chain as tiny contaminated plankton get eaten by ever larger fish, concentrating the radiation until we get the urge to eat some sushi. Oops, then the reporter passes along. One of Tesco’s favorite claims only Tridium can still be found in any quantity, which covers up. The fact, first of all, the tritium itself is dangerous and that other radio nuclides can still be found in lesser quantities. And all it takes for internal contamination to happen is for one Adam, of any of these radionuclides to get stuck inside you constantly discharging neutrons next to your internal tissue. That gives you problems, sloppy reporting, sloppy editing, bogus story, precious Smith. You are this week’s
Now here’s the first of this. Week’s two featured interviews. We’re focusing this week on the international uranium film festival, which is based in real, but because of COVID is being held online. The dates are May 20th to 30th and all of the films being shown are free. During that time, most years, the I U F F pops up in multiple locations around the world. It’s really a traveling film festival. It’s been in Berlin, Quebec, Hollywood, Navajo nation, and all sorts of points in between Norbert Sukenick festival, founder, and general director and Marcia Gomez day, all of Jada festival, founder and executive director curate a roster of films that provide focused views on a wide range of aspects of nuclear problems from the uranium based institutional racism inflicted upon indigenous people around the world to the ongoing issues faced by Japanese hibachi survivors of the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the problems of radioactive legacy waste from the Manhattan project, showing up in such unexpected places as Ames, Iowa, I’ve been fortunate to attend the festival four separate times and except for the intrusion of COVID in all our lives, might’ve attended in person again this year.
However, in this instance, COVID silver lining has been that the 2021 festival is being presented digitally. It’s online for free. And that means that wherever you are, as long as you have a decent internet connection during 10 days, you can be part of this extraordinary outpouring of honest, up close and personal nuclear information. Labors of love by all the film makers, you can read the entire [email protected], click on the Rio 2021 button to get the full report. I have conducted three interviews to date with filmmakers that I will be sharing with you two this week. One next week. First the film in my lifetime, the nuclear world project by Robert E. Frye. Bob fry is an Emmy award-winning producer of network news programs and independent documentaries for over five decades. His credits at ABC news include executive producer of good morning America and ABC world news. Tonight with Peter Jennings, he was a senior producer at Canadian Broadcasting’s weekend and as an independent producer of several films for public television, which include in my lifetime and his won Emmy and Peabody awards for his work Frye joined the U S army in 1958 and worked on nuclear weapons planning while serving in Germany.
The experience fostered a lifelong interest, which led him to create the nuclear world project. At the age of 81, fry said that the obligation of his generation is to tell the story of nuclear weapons to make clear the indescribable damage they have caused and their potential to end life on the planet entirely. That’s exactly what he does within my lifetime. The nuclear world project we spoke on Friday, May 14th, 2021, Bob fry. Thank you so much for joining us on nuclear hot seat.
I appreciate you inviting me and I look forward to your questions.
What is your background and how did you become involved in and focused on nuclear issues?
Background network news producer filmmaker four started in 1962 to the present day and I still enjoy it. I still like the work, the process, as you can appreciate given the work that you do as an independent producer, you don’t have a bunch of people to work with, but at the same time, I’ve been very fortunate in terms of the people I’ve been able to connect with over the years in doing my films, because you don’t really do a film by yourself, never have been able to accomplish that. But I feel that the reason for my interest in nuclear, which started in 2008 with the filming of the two documentaries I’ve done to this point in time, really spawned from I was in the army in Germany, in the late fifties. And one of the jobs I had was working in a nuclear weapons planning group. I can’t go into details, but that’s really when I was introduced to this topic and it stayed with me. And when I was executive producer world news tonight at ABC, I commissioned a 10 part series on Russia called us USSR a balance of power and of the 10 pieces, which incidentally were recognized with an Emmy and DuPont, Columbia awards, five of the pieces had something to do with nuclear weapons. And so it stayed with me all these years. And that’s what I’m dedicated to telling this story
Film, which is in the international uranium film festival is here in my lifetime, the nuclear world project. I’ve now had the opportunity to see two thirds of us because this interview came up very quickly and I found, first of all, that it is devastating, but there was no intrusion of your voice in this other than perhaps by the choice of the clips that you use and the order that you put it in. There’s no manipulative narration that’s brought into it. So it’s very clean and you let the story tell itself, given the range of material you had to choose from, how did you approach it
As a filmmaker producing programs for public television? My interest is in informing the public, no matter what your point of view may be because that’s the role that I play. And also having come out of a network news background, I had the opportunity over the years to tell many different stories, but I feel it’s important to really take the time. I’ve been very fortunate in terms of all the connections I’ve been able to make, not only the interviews, but the places that I’ve gone and telling the story and continue to work on that. There’s so much as you appreciate given your work, there was so much detail that you have to pay attention to. And I noticed one of the mantras in your cleanse, if you will, and your work with your website is to lay it out there, but make sure that you have the facts and that it’s truthful as much as one can be.
I mean, there’s always some subjectivity to whatever you’re doing, but the fact is, I think it’s more important that the people that I’ve interviewed no matter what side of the fence they’re on. And as you could see in the film, there are several individuals from different parts of the nuclear world. It’s important to have their voice in the film speak, obviously, as you also appreciate when you’re editing there takes time, you have to develop a narrative and put together a story that can be told, but that’s really the approach I’ve tried to take and have taken over the course of my career.
I’ve done a lot of my own research, especially into the latter part of the Manhattan project, into the dropping of the bombs and the aftermath. And even with the research, I have done many of the clips that you show of Oppenheimer of general groves of Leo Szilard and others are brand new to me. What did you have to do to dig up those clips? How far did you go and where did you have to go? And what were the arms you had to twist?
First of all, I started off in this business as a researcher. It was an anchor for people of a certain age, or remember his name, Frank McGee at NBC news. So my work was in doing the research. For example, one of the projects I was given to handle when I was there was who would be the successor to Khrushchev. And I came up with the two people that in fact, did the succeed Khrushchev, but the point being you can’t go deep enough to find material. There’s always something new. Also, I, I’m very fortunate that I have a very good archival researcher in Washington that I work with, but also I got material from Los Alamos and other places as well. So I try to find as much material as I can in developing the projects, because I think in terms of this story, the overall story, there are so many images and so many voices and other components that can be factored into making a film on this subject. So I’ve spent a lot of time. I had built up a pretty good archive by now. So I appreciate your comment about it because I think, you know, so much about this story, but you know, you keep finding new material.
I also find areas where material that used to exist have been scrubbed such as all of Edward R Merle’s reports on this that used to be on YouTube and somewhere over the last number of years has disappeared. You mentioned in our talk before we started the interview, that there were amazing juxtapositions that happen to you. One in particular, where you were in Los Alamos. And after that went to Japan, describe what that was like for you.
Well, it turned out and as I was going through the travel, actually I started my first filming for them in my lifetime, took place in Oslo, Norway. There was a very important conference, January of 2008. And then I went from Oslo to Reykjavik with the author of Dick Rhodes. And we filmed at half the house in Reykjavik, whereas, you know, Reagan and Gorbachev met. But then while I was there talking about research, I went to the archival department of Icelandic television and dug out footage of Reagan and Gorbachev after their meeting, they both had news conferences and that material I have in the film juxtaposing, the two liters speaking in the aftermath, as you know, this was the moment the world has come very close to reading of nuclear weapons. Of course they couldn’t cut the deal. It’s a longer story to tell, but essentially it boiled down to one word and they couldn’t agree on that word.
And so this kind of story, it was hurricane to me being at the half the house being in the very room where these men met and then having commentary along with that. But since then, the world has just progressed in a much different way. And I think even Reagan and Gorbachev hoped for, but then as a result of that, I went on to several trips. What you were asking about. I went to Los Alamos and interviewed CIC Hecker at the time. He was the director of Los Alamos, not was after. He’d been the director in that arranged for filming at the Trinity site. And it was mid July. And I had already planned to go to Hiroshima Nagasaki for the anniversary in 2008, August 6th and the ninth. So it just happened to be that experience that I then edited. When I edited two years later, I worked with the editor in the same timeframe as the filming took place, because I thought, interestingly, it was sort of energy in that time and space, but that’s how it happened. It just happened to be coincidental, certainly in terms of going to Los Alamos, but it wasn’t when it came to Hiroshima, Nagasaki,
I have to ask, what was that one word
I knew you were going to ask in going back? I just pull up my transcript of in my lifetime off my shelf of that sequence, that’s in the film it had to do with the word laboratory Jack Matlock, who had been in the room with Mr. Reagan said, this is a quote. They came very close to concluding an agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons in 10 years. One of the myths is that Gorbachev by demanding 10 years in laboratories was trying to kill the strategic defense initiative. Keeping it in 10 years in laboratories would not have killed it. In fact, we needed another 10 years in laboratories. So that was it. So here we are today after 1986, that moment in time where there was an opportunity, but opportunity was lost.
That’s so sad. So much of this makes me want to weep on a regular basis in the making of the film. What was it that surprised you or shocked you or saddened you the most
That nuclear weapon still exists. And again, as I say, it was a very sobering experience being in that room at the halfway house. But I think also look to be realistic about it and having worked within the environment, there’s dedication on both sides, those that want to have the weapons and keep them maintain them. And those that want to rid the world of weapons, it’s a struggle. It is an extensional struggle. And your work obviously is very focused on what can be done to rid the world of weapons, but there is the counterpoint. And actually in my second film, I addressed that by having individuals on both sides, if you will, over the fence. And it’s hard, it’s difficult to understand why, except there are so many different forces at work. And I think from my vantage point, it’s important to present what they are.
I mean, what are we now, 76 years later, and we’re still dealing with this. And as you also know, in 1945, there was a whole movement with Solara and even Oppenheimer. Although Oppenheimer was a longer story, they said, okay, let’s shut it all down. Of course, that didn’t happen. And so I think that with general groves, I mean, obviously he was interested in keeping the ball rolling. And I think when the Russians finally were able to put their first test together, it was almost over at that point. I mean, once then Soviets had their own nuclear capacity. The rest of it became with the UK, with France, then with China, the original P five, if you will, interestingly enough, all of them are the P five and UN and they still essentially are the primary players in the UN. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they are the controlling powers in the UN
In my lifetime, the nuclear world project was finished in 2011. Now, since then we do have the passage of the United nations treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. And we’ve been witnessing the astounding work of the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, or I can, yes. If you were to make this film again today, 10 years later, what, if any changes might you make to it?
Well, first of all, I’m planning to do another film, so I’m not going to make any changes to this. The second film is that Natalie, the nuclear Requiem, I produced that in 2015, but I held off distributed until 2017. And before I did it, I realized when the president of the United States became Mr. Trump and a bunch of other things happened during that time that I updated the film in 2017, it still holds pretty well today. It had to do with both the Iran deal. And of course, when what happened there, what was different things and it’s time to, there’s another story in all of this. So I look at it more in terms of the continuum, as opposed to saying what I’ll change in any particular film. And look, I’m not only a documentary filmmaker, I’m also a news producer. So, you know, you look at it in terms of the flow of the stream, the continuing story, as opposed to, I wish I could do something with that. Other, because I think in my lifetime has its own value as an historic documentary.
You state in your description of the film, quote, the story is a morality play telling the struggle wage over the past six and a half decades with the last act yet to be determined of trying to find out what is the way beyond in your view, is there a way beyond and if so, how can we either begin it or add to it?
One of the things I have on the wall in my office is optimism is to be engaged. Pessimism is to be resigned. I tend to be an optimist. As I know you are, you have to stay engaged. You don’t know. And Sergio Duarte, who is in this film, as well as in the other said, you know, you got to just keep plugging along. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but you will, if you don’t do anything about it. So I think it’s a matter of, as you do in your work as well, you just have to stay engaged. You don’t know where the, what was it, the Truman show when the crack to the outside world, it’s a challenge. And I think also one of the things I noted on my website, I have what I call the connection portal with all of the organizations, many organizations that are involved in this because I felt it was important.
There are so many voices and individuals in groups, not only in the United States, but around the world that work on this a lot and on different sides of the fence, if you will. So I think it’s important just to keep the ball rolling and, you know, see what you can do to change the dynamic. And I think that it’s always a challenge and look, George jolts, there isn’t peace in, in my lifetime toward the end of the film where he was saying, wake up, everybody talking about the dangers of nuclear weapons. I mean, he, of course, was in the government. He was at Reykjavik, but then after he left, he realized along with the other three horseman, he was very aware that he had to keep banging on the door because he said we have to change this dynamic. So, I mean, I think, you know, if you have someone of that stature telling that story, it is important to realize that those that have been there know the realities and those that haven’t, that are working on changing the dynamic.
You got to just give everybody the chance to express their points of view and put it out there. But the only thing I can say, the reason I stay engaged in this is it is a continuing ongoing challenge that needs to be addressed and understood by anyone watching my film. And in the case of the festival. One of the things that I think is very important about the work of the festival is that it provides an opportunity to see many different perspectives, not only in terms of nuclear weapons, but in terms of the nuclear power realities, as you concentrate on Chernobyl and Fukushima, because the voices can be heard, they can be understood. The key is to me, we make the story, we put it out there, but it takes the people to watch that can be moved to respond. It’s not an easy topic to deal with. And a lot of people don’t want to deal with it, but if we don’t, I don’t want to predict what will happen. So it is important for us to continue to do the work.
Where has the film been seen and what is your hope for its future?
Well, the film in the United States, it was first distributed in 2013 via American public television. And so for the first three or four years after had 4,000 airings on public television stations around the country, as well as on the digital world channel. And also I work with the video project out of San Francisco, they distribute the feature length version and it goes to schools and people that just want to buy it. And also because of the uranium film festival, they featured it in a couple of their festivals, as well as in this upcoming one in Rio. And also I have a distributor in Europe that is distributed the film, 15 countries and regions around the world. I was asked, well, who’s the audience. And that’s a classic question in terms of anything that’s produced, who’s the audience. I said, everyone, because it affects everyone. Anyone in the world will be impacted by this.
If there ever is any nuclear conflict and it will change dramatically, the world that we live in today. And I think also in terms of the ongoing distribution, I mean, for example, this festival it’s like, Palatan in have gun will travel. You have it available, you put it out there, see who picks up on it. It’s the same thing with the nuclear Requiem meant it’s there. And it’s important just to have it available. It’s a record, right? And also you pointed out earlier on there’s a lot of archival material, even a lot of the specialists that know this field, as you said, were very surprised with some of the footage of the historic voices that are in the film, but they’re the seed bed, right? They started this, they’re the ones that made it happen. So you got to understand what their mentality, wasn’t why they did it. And also Leo Solara has a different voice, but it was important to hear what he had to say years later. And actually that interview was filmed a pretty short time before he passed on, it was an important voice for getting rid of the weapons because he knew he knew the realities.
It was at both ends of the equation because he was the one who wrote the letter that he gave to Einstein to deliver.
Yeah, you’re right. And also that sequence in the film that shows Solara sitting with Einstein is that letter was written that you pointed out yes.
Priceless. Yeah. Bob fry, your film, first of all, is monumental and deserve to be seen by everyone. That’s a bad marketing term because when you’re saying everyone you’re saying no one, but I really am saying everyone because it really brings across the devastation without bludgeoning us with the information. As I said, there’s a very delicate sense of restraint and narrative to this that comes directly from the material. This is not an imposition from you. I truly appreciate your skill, your having taken all your decades of experience in news to create this. And I wish you all the best with this and the rest of your films with a gratitude for you being my guest this week on nuclear hot seat.
And I appreciate your invitation and from your lips to God’s ears and the viewers that can see him. But also I must congratulate you on your continuing work and voice in putting out what you put out there all the time. Very impressive. Thank you very much.
Award-winning filmmaker and former ABC news, executive producer, Robert E. Fry. His film is in my lifetime, the nuclear world project. And I strongly urge you to watch it. And after that, do what you can to get it into schools, libraries, community groups, anywhere where people who don’t know the truth about nuclear weapons need to learn the truth about nuclear weapons. Or as we discussed earlier, everywhere more information is available on the film and Bob’s [email protected] And of course we’ll link to it on our website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number five 17, we’ll have this week, second featured interview in just a moment, but first nuclear problems are going to continue to be with us forever. From uranium mining and contamination to weapons, production, to radiation, leaking power reactors, to still not having a way to safely store the deadly radioactive waste produced by all these endeavors.
Nuclear is government and business, not caring how they contaminate the world. As long as they keep making obscene profits and fool themselves into thinking they are immune to the consequences of their actions when they are not. Meanwhile, we all have to deal with the dangers of radioactive contamination that will not go away on its own. Ever quite frankly, nuclear is a mess and that is why you need nuclear hot seat. You’ve learned to count on us to get into nuclear stories, with fact continuity and context, as well as a healthy dose of skepticism and a little bit of humor, wherever we can. We use only vetted journalistic sources that can be trusted to tell the truth. This is journalism that mainstream media is unwilling or unable to provide nuclear hot seat is the only program you can count on to report the ongoing, evolving nuclear truth that the nuclear industry would rather we not hear about let alone understand.
And that’s why the time would be right now to support us with a donation, just go to nuclear, hot seat.com and click on that big red donate button to help us with a donation of any size that same red button is now where you can set up a monthly $5, the same as a cup of coffee, and a nice tip to the barista here in the United States. So how about buying nuclear hot seat of metaphor, a cup of coffee? I promise it will go for social media reach and planning, not a caffeine fix. Please do what you can now and know that however much you can help. I am deeply grateful that you’re listening and that you care. Here’s this week. Second featured interview on the international uranium film festival. We’ve all probably seen small snippets of black and white film from on the ground in Hiroshima or Nagasaki footage taken shortly after the atomic bombs were dropped on those cities in August, 1945.
But that footage is just part of the story. Film shot by Japanese newsreel companies starting the day after the blast, as well as us army color footage of Nagasaki are more extensive than we’ve been led to believe. And they have been suppressed. Now, a single film brings together not only that footage, much of it never before seen, but narrative by the cameraman, American and Japanese who shot it. Atomic coverup is a just released film that shows the devastating impact of nuclear war on human beings. Director. Greg Mitchell is the award-winning author of a dozen books, including 2020s, the beginning or the end, how Hollywood and America learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. His previous books on the atomic bombings were Hiroshima in America with Robert J Lifton and atomic coverup. He has served as chief advisor to several documentaries, including original child bomb, which was screened at the Cannes film festival and was winner of the top prize at API silver docks. Atomic coverup is brand new, having been released in April, 2021. We spoke on Saturday, May 15th, 2021, Greg Mitchell. Thanks so much for being with us today on nuclear hot seat.
Happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Let’s start out with a little bit about you. What is your background and what has been your involvement with nuclear issues up to the point that you started working on this film?
I’ve been a journalist for the past, I guess you’d say half century. I’ve been a magazine editor of national magazines here in the U S and I’ve written about a dozen books. I co-produced a movie not long ago about Beethoven’s ninth symphony. I was involved as chief consultant to a couple of major documentaries. So this is the first film I’ve actually written and directed myself. But my involvement with nuclear issues goes back. I mean, of course I could say my entire life since I grew up in the fifties and sixties. So I always was very much affected by the nuclear fears of that period. And then in the early 1980s, I became the editor of a magazine called nuclear times, which was the Bible of the anti-nuclear movement in the U S had had an international influence as well. So from about 1982 to 1986, I was the editor of this important antinuclear magazine.
And so that’s when I really plunged deeply into nuclear issues. And as part of that, I, during that period, I learned a grant to go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for over a month. So obviously I became really expert and interested in that everything relating to the atomic bombings even more than I was before. And I interviewed dozens of people, including the survivors and radiation experts and experts on the, the decision to drop the bomb, but relating to my current movie, your turning point was in 1982, I was exposed to and got to interview one of the two key figures in my movie, the American former army officer who helped shoot this footage that was then suppressed for decades when I first met him. And when I became editor of nuclear times, the very first feature I assigned and published was on this gentleman and the suppression of the nuclear footage. I basically have written about it and been interested in it ever since. So that really goes back. I could say my film is 38 years in the making. I didn’t work on it nonstop for 38 years, but I have been interested in continued to research and been involved with that subject for that long really.
So you were aware of the footage. When did you first encounter it? When did you first start finding it and what did it take for you to be able to do? So
The Japanese were the first to film in Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately after the atomic bombings shooting black and white newsreel footage. When the Americans arrived in September of 1945, shortly after the American seized, all that footage was black and white newsreel footage. And the American military began doing their own filming in color, which was very rare at the time shooting in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So basically the, the two army officers who kind of led that unit who were the two key figures in my film, you know, created incredible color footage of the aftermath and the survivors focusing a lot on the people, which most focuses very little on the survivor and the victims, or it was on, you know, rubble and destruction of the actual landscape. So not only did the American sees all the Japanese footage, but then this American, even though it was shot by the U S military, when they brought it back to the U S it was seized by the military and it was suppressed for decades.
So the film shows is that the black and white Japanese footage did not emerge anywhere until about 1970 twenty-five years and the American color footage, even later around 1980, when it became known that this footage existed, that’s how long it was suppressed. So my film shows some of the footage for the first time. It shows the footage, both the black and white and the color footage in 4k for the first time. So even if you’ve seen some of this footage, you haven’t seen it this way before the quality of the images. And like I said, a lot of it, no one has really seen before it hasn’t been used in films to this date. And so it’s a combination of actually showing some of this footage, but also the stories of the American, particularly a man named her Sussman, who tried for decades to get this footage released and talk to everyone from a president German himself to top media figures, to Robert F. Kennedy and others, to try to get this footage released. And it actually only became known around 1980 by pure chance. And so that’s why the film is called atomic coverup because it explorers discover why, you know, why was it covered up? Why was it suppressed? Why is it important today? Why do we even care about this today
In watching it, I’d done a lot of research on my own about this particular era, but first of all, it was more footage than I’ve ever seen about Hiroshima and Nagasaki from on the ground. And secondly, it cast it in a completely different light because there was a personal human element to it. There were pictures of great devastation with one cart being drawn by a horse or a mule with a couple of people behind it. Apparently everything they owned in the world was in there. And the juxtaposition, when we say bombing somebody back into the stone age, this was really starting to look like it. So it was very deeply impactful. Go into a little bit of detail as to why you think the footage was suppressed for so long, especially from the American public.
It’s still a sensitive subject today. I mean, I wrote a book a few years ago with Robert J Lifton called Hiroshima in America, which was all about the aftermath of the bombing and how Americans, both the media and public opinion dealt with it. Ever since we called Hiroshima America’s raw nerve. It’s something that America still has not faced to this date. It’s something we perpetrated now. People could disagree on whether it was a good idea or a horrible idea or war crime or whatever, but the fact as Americans still are not, and not really faced it because it’s just raw nerve. They don’t don’t really want to touch it. And this was particularly true after we dropped the bombs, you know, the war ended soon afterwards, it was kind of easy to kind of claim that the, it was the bomb that ended the war, even though it’s not precisely true.
And certainly we wanted the American public to feel that, you know, the bomb was a, you know, it was a good thing so that we could build more of them and, and begin testing them. And indeed, we then very quickly went ahead with our nuclear testing program, building more bombs, bigger bombs, eventually the hydrogen bomb. So it was important to cast the bomb and, and kind of a useful role and not something that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. And so what the Americans were exposed to in the many years afterwards was almost only scenes of rubble, scenes of landscape, pictures of the mushroom cloud, great destructions, surely but not people. And what these films showed was focusing on the people on the survivors and what happened to them afterwards and how they suffered and what they looked like. So this is what radiation disease looks like, or the, we didn’t want anyone to know about or know much about radiation disease.
So here’s images of people who were suffering and dying from radiation disease. And I think in watching my film, without me beating it into the ground, probably 90% of the survivors and victims who were shown are women or children, they’re civilians, you know, that’s cherry picking. So when you’re going through, okay, I’m going to show this footage and this hospital scene and these patients, and they’re almost inevitably women or children. And those were indeed 90% of the victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So without, I mean, I hope that kind of gets through to people, even if you know, every five minutes, I’m not saying victims were civilian, just watching you say, geez, there’s one kid after another, and there’s another kid and there’s a woman and there’s maybe an elderly man, and there’s another kid. And there was another kid. Those were the victims. I think that’s why this footage had to be suppressed for so long because it was too, too focused on the human toll of the bombings.
What did it take for you to be able to garner this footage and be able to use it? Was there pushback? Was there a long process involved with it? Is there still resistance to it? Getting out
Brought 1980, it was in the national archives in the United States. And partly thanks to the article. I originally published the filmmakers and the media became aware of it. I really hadn’t been used until that. And so starting in say, 1983 filmmakers and the media started using small bits of it. You know, I always tell people, look, this footage is not now suppressed. I didn’t do anything. Like I went in and dug it out or did a freedom of information act. But the fact is, is that in these, this 40 years, very, very little that has been used, partly because the media in the us does not focus on this issue. They don’t do very much with it when they do do documentaries or news coverage, they tend to use the same images over. And again, what’s unusual about my film, which is unique. And believe me, perhaps like you, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of documentaries on this subject over the many years.
And so there could be a feeling of how different could this film be, but this is the first film to look at this subject from the eyes of the filmmakers of the documentarians of the newsreel, people who shot the newsreels and the cameramen, the entire film is told in first person by the witnesses and the witnesses are all the film made. This, this is not the usual talking heads or some expert comes on and explains, you know, what people saw or why it was important. Every single word in the film is from either the Japanese or the American cameraman or directors. And they talk about what they saw and then what happened to the footage afterwards. So it is completely different than any film ever on the subject.
I wanted to get to that narration because it was very compelling and it was seamless between the Japanese and the American voices. Now, you said that you had actually interviewed Lieutenant Daniel AME McGovern from the army, who was the cameraman for the color footage in Nagasaki. Where did you locate the other voices that you end up having read invoice over? Where any of these people still alive when you started or did you have to go interviews and journal entries? What was your sourcing of it?
And McGovern who was ahead of the American project I interviewed at again, back in 1983, my 38 year saga here, I interviewed him and I got documents from him, formerly secret documents that he sent me. Herb’s the Sam, the other American leader. I interviewed him at length at that time. So their voices in the film, although they’ve passed away long ago, almost all of it is based on interviews. I did with them, myself, the Japanese newsreel people, everything is taken from oral histories that they did or autobiographies that they wrote, the interviews that they did. So everything is taken directly from their words that I had translated for the first time. No one has ever translated any of these things into English. So I had their words translated. And then the figure who I think is totally fascinating is you might say the in-between figure.
It’s a guy named Harry, who was a well-known Japanese cinematographer. In fact, he shot Akira Kurosawa. His first feature, he then did work in Hollywood for a studios, and he went back to Japan. So when the work came, he was in Japan, but the American military knew about him. So when they went into Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they contacted the Toho studio and asked, could we use Harry memoriae to shoot a great deal of the American footage? So you have this very unusual and compelling, profound situation where you have a Japanese man shooting, a great deal of this footage of Japanese victims for the Americans. And again, I had the relevant parts of his autobiography translated into English for the first time. So in the film you hear Harry talking about in the first person, what it was like to shoot this footage of his countrymen. They actually injured, dying country meant for the Americans and how he felt quite different because he was a Japanese himself working for the Americans.
It’s that humanizing voice that comes through that really very quietly underscores the tragedy of what we are saying. And I appreciate the fact that you weren’t coming in with an agenda. You weren’t trying to make a 0.1 way or another. You were just presenting the information and allowing us to invest ourselves in what you were showing and what we were hearing. And the combination I found devastating, or I should never watch films like that right before I go to bed,
It’s a nightmare. And the international nightmare is still living with us today. So maybe that’s a proper, maybe it should give us nightmares.
The film just debuted this year. And I believe this is the second showing of it in connection with the international uranium film festival, what are your plans forward or what is set up for it to go forward? From this point
It’s been submitted to other festivals it’s just was released last month. So it’s really just beginning, it’s half. We have a distributor in Europe who has made the sales to the leading media outlet in Spain and a leading media outlets in Northern Europe and the Baltics and part of Russia. And there, again, they they’re hoping to place it, you know, all over the world, but again, it’s very early on. So, and although I I’ve always made a big point of the resistance of American media to this subject. Certainly we, we have hopes that one of the streaming services in the U S whether it’s Netflix or Amazon or public television or Hulu or whatever, we’ll pick it up. And maybe for this coming August, you know, there’s always a little more coverage, you know, last year was the 75th anniversary, and I had expected great deal of coverage. Actually, there was very little in the U S and the little that there was, it was almost all very much pro bombing. So it was the opposite of coming to grips and very disappointing. But every year on the anniversary, when the August six comes up, there always is a little more coverage. So we’ll see if we get a major airing this year,
Here’s hoping that you do, it’s such a difficult subject matter that I really do hope that not only you, but all the films from the uranium film festival get picked up as like a channel on Netflix so that people have the opportunity to see the range of what’s out there.
Although this seems like a very familiar subject and people have seen images for a long time. What I seem to be getting from a lot of people who do see the film is that they’re kind of amazed. I think it’s put together in a kind of an artful way. People can watch it and feel that it’s, it’s kind of a very artful presentation and not polemical political gory. They can come away. Like you said, maybe a little bit shattered at the end and decide to look into this issue more or take some action.
Can only hope Greg Mitchell, thank you so much for the film you made for making it available to the international uranium film festival and for being my guest this week on nuclear hot seat.
I appreciate it. Thank you very much,
Director Greg Mitchell on his film, atomic coverup in our post-interview chit-chat. I learned that the film of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that Greg used is all stored at the national archives and is considered to be in the public domain. Just a thought for you filmmakers out there to know that when you need source material for your nuclear project, that’s where it’s available. We will have links up to the uranium film festival. And I want you to listen next week, because we have a different kind of film than these two. It’s called of the sense of the whole, the network of physicist, Hans Peter Deere. And if you ever wondered what a pacifist physicist is all about, this is the film for you. I talk with director Klaus Biggert who progressed from studying with Edward teller, the father of the H-bomb while he was a student at Berkeley, to being an outspoken pacifist physicist. That phrase, by the way, pacifist physicist is one of the most important that I’ve encountered because it recast physics and physicists as something that can sustain life, not destroy it. That’s next week on nuclear hot seat, number five 18 on May 25th, 2021,
The black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are the sacred center of the Lakota. Sometimes known as SU treaty territory. And they are being threatened by a radioactive uranium mining project. The Dewey burdock project proposed by power tech uranium in the waning days of the Trump administration, the EPA granted power tech to permits and a safe drinking water act, aquifer exemption without meaningful consultation with the Oglala Sioux tribe, and without conducting a cultural resources study of the proposed mine site, the Lakota people now have a petition up with change.org, demanding that the EPA reverse their water permits decision. We will link to it. Of course, a new campaign is coming out of the work of Mary Olsen of gender and radiation.org joined by beyond nuclear and radiation and impact project, heavy hitters. All it’s called a female body as basis of radiation safety regulation make no mistake.
This is a movement and a necessary one to draft a new reference model for determining protective levels from radiation exposure. And it will protect all of us. We’ll have a link to their recent press release on the website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number five 17, and just for fun, the bulletin of the atomic scientists, the group behind the annual update on the doomsday clock has put together a Spotify playlist of songs inspired by said, clock included are the smashing pumpkins, 2007 song, the doomsday clock, iron maidens, 1984 recording, two minutes to midnight and the who’s song from 1982. Why did I fall for that? Which specifically references the doomsday clock. There are many more as well. Those are just the group with which I have a bit of familiarity, or at least I recognize their names, but check out the playlist. It’s fun. And here’s one that didn’t make it, but is my personal favorite.
One minute to midnight, one minute to go one minute to say, Hey, before we,
This has been nuclear hot seat for Tuesday, May 18th, 2021. A reminder that next week we will have a news Roundup from the past month of stories that didn’t previously make it onto the show. I was once telling someone in the entertainment industry about nuclear hot seat, and she kissed and gave me a disdainful look and said, is there really enough nuclear information to fill an hour long show? Every week when I got home, I couldn’t stop laughing. Remember that’s next week. Now you’re listening to this show, but don’t take a chance of missing any others. The easiest way to get nuclear hot seat and not miss a single episode is to go to the website, look for the yellow box, put in your first name, put in an email address. Hey, you get the show every week, as soon as it posts. Now, if you’ve got a story lead, a hot tip or a suggestion of someone to interview, send an email to [email protected]
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Minute to midnight. One minute to go one minute to.