The Atomic States of America
Directors: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce
The Atomic States of America, based on the book: Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir From An Atomic Town , is about the United States’ dependence on nuclear power and the ramifications associated with that dependence. Former Presidents have spoken about the importance of nuclear power and that has started more intellectual talk of how necessary it is for our powerful country. What those speeches fail to mention are the health issues nuclear power causes. The documentary gives accounts of those who have gotten sick as a result of having a nuclear-reactor site close to home. One woman states that everyone on her street had cancer and no one could understand why people kept dying in such close proximity to one another. Another story is about a father whose daughter had to undergo a number of surgeries and is thankfully alive to this day. The daughter spoke in the documentary, thanking her father for all that he has done for her. I give this film a 9 out of 10 (10 signifying an ultra-independent film) because it completely goes against the norm of keeping the United States as some nuclear hungry nation. I honestly did not know much about the topic going into this film, but I highly recommend it for those who want to remain informed about the issue at hand. There are people being exposed to nuclear reactors and are eventually afflicted with deadly diseases. This myth gives voice to the disadvantaged, which reminds me of the amazing documentary that also appeared in Sundance this year, Finding North, which addresses hunger in the United States. Scientists who take the topic of exposure to nuclear contamination and hide it under the rug are irresponsible. People in positions of power are not thinking of the residents who are being subjected to exposure and it is appalling. This documentary is another strike against people in power who have distanced themselves so far away on their pedestals from the average person that they refuse to address a very serious issue. After the film the audience were given Shirley, the book the documentary is based on. Reading this book after the film should give readers an even greater insight as to the personal account of growing up next to a nuclear reactor. There is even some input from actor Alec Baldwin on this issue, which seemed like a random addition in the documentary and may have weakened the argument that the directors were trying to send to the viewers. However, the documentary is still a strong blow to people in positions of power in our government. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone, especially those who are not well informed about this issue like myself.
Directors: Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush
This is a documentary delving into the hunger crisis in the United States. There are many Americans who are lucky to eat one meal a day. In one of the stories, a girl admits to being so hungry that her stomach growls all the time in class. She cannot concentrate and doesn’t receive the best grades because she is so hungry. Another story is of a police officer who does not make that much money so he heads to a shelter for a meal. He finds this a blow to his ego but he just cannot afford to put food on the table. Also, there is a single mother who does not get paid enough in food stamps and when she lands a job she does not make enough to support her children. All of this is happening in our country and this is a real problem that the United States has turned a blind eye on.
This documentary was well done and it was clear that the two directors are making more people aware of the problem. A huge strength I saw in particular were the speeches of past Presidents who address the hunger problem but as the years go by the numbers of hungry people keep going up. Another strength was that instead of just having stories dominate the documentary, they also included the costs of healthy foods opposed to unhealthy ones. Healthy food is also difficult to come by because a grocery store with healthy food may be so far away from your home that you end up using up too much gas getting there. The directors even went into detail about how school cafeterias are on such a tight budget they can’t serve healthy food options and showed how one lady works at serving healthy food to kids. This documentary was really incredible across the board to the extent where the method of delivery was not at all preachy.