#India – High Power, Yelllow Oscar Winner film on Tarapur Atomic Power Station


 

NEW DELHI, June 7, 2013, The Hindu

Power play

Budhaditya Bhattacharya

  • A still from 'High Power'.
    A still from ‘High Power’.
  • A still from 'High Power'.
    A still from ‘High Power’.
  • Pradeep Indulkar.
    Pradeep Indulkar.

Pradeep Indulkar talks about “High Power”, which won a Yellow Oscar at the Uranium Film Festival recently

Having worked for 12 years with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Pradeep Indulkar is an unlikely candidate for directing a film opposed to nuclear power. His High Power, a 27-minute documentary about the health issues faced by residents of Tarapur, a town in Maharashtra, and home to the Tarapur Atomic Power Station, recently won the Yellow Oscar in the short film category in the Rio de Janeiro leg of the Uranium Film Festival. Films from all over the world which shed light on the problems associated with nuclear energy are screened and discussed here.

Having quit BARC in 1994 owing to health problems, Indulkar, a mechanical engineer, worked in the field of environment education, which would have doubtless served him well during the making of this film. In 2009, he came across the struggle against the Jaitapur nuclear plant, and joined it. This steered him towards Tarapur, the oldest nuclear power plant and the closest to Mumbai.

“The govt. was showing a very rosy picture of Tarapur on TV, so a few of us thought of going there and interviewing the people…That material was very strong, people were talking from their heart, and instead of showing it on a news channel, I thought it could be made into a documentary,” Indulkar informs. Combining his passion for storytelling from his college days with a new found interest in the documentary format, Indulkar set sail.

After a few more interviews, a narrative emerged, which sees the goings-on at Tarapur through the eyes of a city dweller who returns to his native village. The documentary focuses on the acute situation there, and the everyday nature of morbidity. “Rate of death due to cancer is increasing; the other major problems are loss of fertility, stillbirths and deformed babies. Paralysis and heart attacks caused by high blood pressure are also on the rise,” the director informs. With these, the documentary also examines issues of rehabilitation and loss of livelihood.

Like most documentary filmmakers, Indulkar faced a shortage of funds while making the film. “In the making of a documentary on some critical issues the main problem a documentary maker faces is the funding. Though we have a few funding agencies they mainly give funds to informative and educational films. But documentary is the genre of film which brings out the truth and most of the times the truth is a bit bitter, which some agencies do not wish to support,” he says.

He was helped out by a number of people who agreed to be a part of the film on an honorary basis. While Tom Alter and Vikram Gokhale did the voiceovers in English and Hindi respectively, a Marathi film producer funded the editing of the film.

The film is yet to obtain a clearance from the Censor Board of Film Certification in India, which means it cannot be shown publicly in India yet. Meanwhile, Indulkar is working on finishing the film he had started a few years ago, about the heritage structures of Mumbai.

 

Yellow Oscar for Indian film at Uranium Film Festival


A documentary on the people displaced by the coming up of Tarapur Atomic Power Station, India‘s first nuclear plant near Mumbai, has bagged the Yellow Oscar at the Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 27-minute documentary, titled “High Power”, was the maiden directorial venture of Pradeep Indulkar, an anti-nuclear activist from Ratnagiri, coastal Maharashtra.

“My documentary received unprecedented response at the festival and was screened several times, besides special screening in Rio de Janeiro colleges. The issue tackled in it is true for almost all the nuclear plants and the truths they leave behind,” Indulkar told IANS from Brazil.

Chandrasen Arekar, a displaced farmer from Tarapur, Thane district, received the award to a thundering ovation, from the chief guest, Junko Watanabe, the last survivor of Hiroshima nuclear holocaust during World War II.

In his acceptance speech, Indulkar said that apart from all the sorrows and distress highlighted by the documentary, the Yellow Oscar was a golden moment in his life as a filmmaker.

“I accept this award on behalf of all nuclear project affected people of Tarapur and I dedicate it to all those farmers and fishermen who lost their land, home and livelihood for the nuclear power plant,” Indulkar said at the awards ceremony Sunday night in the Brazilian capital.

Incidentally, Indulkar is among the leading personalities opposing the proposed 9,900 MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Plant coming up with French collaboration in Ratnagiri.

Bouyed by the response to the documentary, Indulkar has submitted it for several international film festivals including India-Japan Film Fest in Japan, a film festival in Stuttgart, Germany and later at the Mumbai International Film Festival.

About the release of the documentary in India, Indulkar said the Indian censors have restricted the movie release only through DVD.

source-  http://www.beyondnuclear.org

Date

 

Indian Film on Tarapur Nuclear Project “High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar #mustshare


Documentary on Tarapur Nuclear Project affected people

‘High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar

World Premier on 23rd May at Rio-de-Janerio, Brazil

About 50 years ago India’s first nuclear power plant established at Tarapur. In the emotional patriotic feelings the locals happily gave their fertile lands. Today after 50 years we heard some news that the second generation of those patriotic farmers are agitating at Tarapur for their basic amenities. We the city dwellers read such news and forget next day. But what exactly happened in Tarapur in last 50 years in Tarapur? What happened to the dreams which were shown to them in those days? That’s is untold. To enlighten the world outside about the dark sorrows of the villagers whose village is now producing light, a documentary was planned, which further named as ‘High Power’. The film which was made to give voice to the pains of those thousands of people is produced through people’s participation. Then some veteran artist from Hindi, Marathi stage and cinema world came forward to mix their voice with these people. The National Award winner actor Vikram Gokhale and leading Marathi actress Ila Bhate narrated for Marathi version of the film and senior actor from Hindi and English film and stage Tom Alter and Shivani Tibarewala narrated the English version of   film. Along with these celebrities few technicians and producers from film industry helped a lot to make this film happened.  Now the film is translated in seven languages which includes some foreign languages like French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese along with Hindi and English. So now the film is truly International and now set to talk to global media and audience, but as the Censor Board has raised objections film cannot be released in India.

Though the project is named as Tarapur, it is not standing on the land of Tarapur village. Few villages in the vicinity of town Tarapur were displaced about 50 years back. Their issues related to rehabilitation are still pending, they lost their traditional business of fishing at the same time they did not get new jobs in this project, there are very serious issues related to their health like cancer, TB, kidney failures and also impotency. A protagonist is roaming in villages and whatever he sees there that is the film. The film never talks on this issues or gives its comments but as per the common middleclass mentality film only suggests what a common, middleclass person can do at his best.

The film High Power is sent to participate in different International Film Festivals and it was a great pleasure that it got nominated for ‘Yellow Oscar’. Every year in the city of Rio-de-Janerio of Brazil an International Uranium Film festival calls nuclear related films from all over world. This year more than 150 films participated in this festival, out of which 48 got selected in three sections of feature film, short film and animation film, in which High Power selected in short film section of 19 films. Today High power is within best eight of entire festival. On 23rd May High power will be screened in festival at rio-de-Janerio and it will be its World Premier. To be present in this world premier and the festival, film director Pradeep Indulkar and one of the displaced fisherman from Popharan village Chandrasen Arekar are going to Brazil. This is an opportunity for the representative of displaced people Arekar to talk to the global media and the international audience.

For this trip the expected expense is around two and half lakh rupees. The team High Power appeal the city dwellers who are using the power of Tarapur Nuclear Plant from last 50 years and those who really feel that the local people who scarified their land, homes and in some cases lives should be heard, could take the burden of this expenditure together and the sensitive people could come forward to bear this expenses. Those who wish to contribute for this venture can drop a cheque in favor of High power – Big Dreams at the address 29, Kaushik, Shreenagar, Sector-1, Thane – 400 604 along with their name and address or transfer the fund through net banking in A/c No 003120100013362 (High Power-Big Dreams) in Thane Janata Sahakari Bank’s Naupada, Thane branch (IFS Code-TJSB0000003) and inform us on e-mail highpower.bigdreams@gmail.com

 

 

#India- Films under the knife #censorship


OMAR RASHID, The Hindu

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

 The screening of noted filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s  Ram Ke Naam  (In the Name of God) was persistently protested by the students’ wing of a political party at a recent people’s film festival in Ayodhya, more than two decades after it was documented. The filmmaker talks about the film, censorship of independent opinions and much more in an interview:

How relevant do you think is the film’s initial controversy today?

Twenty-one years ago, the film got a “U” certificate, a Filmfare Award and a National Award for Best Investigative Film. The Doordarshan showed the film following an order by the Bombay High Court who ruled that it was made in national interest. Yet there are groups that oppose it without seeing it. They are told it is “anti- Hindu”. But in fact, in the last 21 years, several  karsevaks  who had actually gone to demolish the Babri Mosque confessed after seeing the film that they felt ashamed for what they had done. They realised that the issue was not religious, but political and financial.

Ram Ke Naam  does not oppose any religion. The voices of ordinary Hindus in and around Ayodhya are testimony to the fact that the communal virus in this country does not originate from the working majority but is largely injected by upper caste urban elements. These “leaders” generally get working class/caste people to do their dirty work, whether this is scavenging or participating in riots and looting.  Ram Ke Naam  interviews Pujari Laldas, head priest of the Ram Janma bhoomi/ Babri Masjid temple/ mosque who believed that Hindus and Muslims should both be allowed to pray at the site as they had done for centuries. Within a year of the Babri demolition, Pujari Laldas was murdered.

The film was incidentally completed in 1991, before the Babri demolition. It was a warning to the nation that communal forces were about to inflict a grievous wound on our secular fabric. The warning went unheeded. By that time the film reached TV, the damage had been done. The Babri Masjid had been demolished, thousands of people in the sub-continent killed and a chain reaction of religious hatred unleashed that continues to wreak havoc to the present day.

The Babri demolition has completed 20 years, why do you think no mainstream film has been made on the issue?  Barring exceptions, I don’t have faith in mainstream Bollywood or for that matter Hollywood. They have the great advantage of mass reach but the very nature of the huge finances involved prevents political, social and cultural risk-taking. There is careful calculation and almost inevitable compromise. Sometimes when its heart is in the right place, a film can shift popular perceptions to a tiny degree but usually this happens only when the filmmakers believes their cause to be popular. So for instance, there may be some good films made against rape now but even here the chances are that the commercial instinct will send double messages while appearing to be pro-woman.

So the silence on Babri Masjid is not surprising. One sensitive fiction film that did touch this issue is Saeed Mirza’s  Naseem  though I won’t call it Bollywood and nor did it enjoy a big release. Incidentally when Saeed wanted to access TV footage of the attack on the mosque he could not find any, such had been the censorship. He ended up using sound clips from Ram Ke Naam .

Kamal Haasan’s 

Vishwaroopam  

was in the news for slightly similar reasons.

I am against censorship, especially of the extra-constitutional variety. I will not talk of the content of Vishwaroopam  as I have not seen the film, but the reviews of people I trust has me worried that the film indulges in stereotyping and sees the U.S. as an ally in the fight against terror. If this is true, I would still not call for censorship but I would find it problematic, because the U.S. is playing a deadly double game. They are both the authors of jihad  and now the victims of it. Bin Laden was their creation. They fought a proxy war in Afghanistan where they preached Islamic jihad against communists. Have they ever apologised? Peace may come to our planet the day the powerful neo-con lobby in America genuinely reveals how it used religion to divide the world. And Islamic  jihad  may realise that not Islam, not the Quran, but their enemy number one is their actual father.

Most human beings are not bigoted by nature. They are victims of manipulation. Just as  Ram Ke Naam  was able to win over  karsevaks . I am sure that even  jihadis  can be won over if they come into genuine and prolonged contact with those who believe in another idea of Islam. But if we merely practice revenge, judicial or otherwise, the cycle of violence will remain unbroken.

How has the film-making landscape changed since you made  Ram Ke Naam ? Are you freer today?

I continue to try and tell the truth as I see it. What is sad is that the real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins. Breaking out of this is the fight that must continue.

 

“…real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins.”

 

 

 

Radiating Lies- A Report on Jadugoda


 

Although the company claims radiation stories as ” myths “, Headlines Today documents the evidence where the entire environment, community and the future generation has been put to risk by the sheer negligence of the company.

 

Film fete provides platform for Koodankulam protesters


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

100 short films, documentaries to be screened

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Xavior Amma, leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, addressing the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival heldin Thrissur on Saturday.

Nothing can dampen the spirit of the protesters against Koodankulam Nuclear Plant, said Xavior Amma, leader for People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, a group which is fighting against the nuke project.

She was addressing a discussion session at the 8th edition of Vibgyor International Film Festival held here on Saturday.

“We will fight till the end even if we are branded as traitors by the State,” she said. Xavior Amma has been the leader of the agitation ever since it began in 1988. People came to know about the sufferings of the Koodankulam protesters through the narrative of her struggles.

In September, 2012 she was arrested as part of effort to suppress the agitation. The police had booked several cases against S.P. Udayakumar, the leader of the movement, during the last lap of the agitation.

“They booked false cases against many of us to dampen the spirit of the agitation. But the people knew that the protesters were right and hence they never withdrew their support,” said Xavior Amma.

She alleged that the nuclear power plant will affect the biodiversity in the vicinity.

“Our struggle is for protection of human rights and conservation of environment. But the protest is being branded as the one taken out by ‘ignorant’ fisher folk who have come under the influence of the U.S. government. We are being branded as traitors and American spies,” she said.

The Vibgyor Film Collective donated books to the library set up at Kudankulam for the children there.

More than 100 short films, documentaries and animation films are being screened at the five-day festival. The theme of the festival is “Stolen Democracies.”

Addressing the inaugural function at the K.T. Mohammed Memorial Regional Theatre, Marcia Gomez Oliviera, academic from Brazil, said that youth apparently did not want to fight for democracy.

“They want to struggle only to earn money. Money means everything to them. As an academic, when I teach about democracy in class, I face a question from students: is democracy worth fighting for? Democracy, in this sense, is not stolen. It does not exist at many places,” she said.

 

Invitation-International Uranium Film Festival, Chennai @5feb




ENTRY FREE

WHAT: Festival of international documentaries, short films and
animation filmcovering uranium mining, nuclear researchweapons,
and power plants
 and nuclear waste. Discussions led by feature
filmmakers and prominent intellectuals.

WHEN: Film Fest on February 5-6, 2013.
9.30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Workshop on documentary
film-making
 led by Alphonse Roy and R. Revathi
on 7 February
(9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.)


WHERE: Asian College of Journalism
2nd Main Road, Taramani (Near Indira Nagar MRTS
Behind MS Swaminathan Research Foundation)

Organised by:
Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle
 &
Poovulagin Nanbargal


Background
Curated by two Brazilian film makers, the widely travelled international film festival, explores the entire nuclear life cycle — from the mining of uranium to disposal of radioactive wastes. Choosing from more than 50 documentaries and animation films, the Chennai festival brings to viewers 20 films over a two-day period. Thefestival is geared towards engendering a more informed debate on these issues.

Contact:
9444689572
www.uraniumfilmfestival.org

 

#Pune- Week long festival of democracy starting @Jan26 #filmfestival


Dear All,

Lokayat is organising a number of public programs in the coming 10 days. Here is a brief list:

Program 1. 

Republic Day talk on:

Constitutional Vision of Education and Neo-liberal Assault:

Undoing Dreams of Freedom Struggle

Speaker:

Dr. Anil Sadgopal

Prof. of Education (retd.), Delhi University and

Member, Presidium, All India Forum for Right to Education

Date:   Jan 26, 2013, Saturday

Time:   6 – 8.30 pm

Venue: Lokayat Hall, Opp. Sydicate Bank, Law College Road, Near Nal Stop, Pune.

Program 2:

Lokayat is hosting

International Travelling Uranium Film Festival

Dates:  Jan 27 – 31, 2013 (five-days)
Time:   6 to 10 pm everyday (out of these 4 hours, two hours will be dedicated to the Uranium Film Festival. During the remaining 2 hours, films of the Vasundhara Film Festival will be screened.)
Venue: Balgandharva Rangmandir, Jungli Maharaj Road, Pune.

ENTRY FREE.

Concept note:

The International Uranium Film Festival (http://www.uraniumfilmfestival.org/index.php/en/is dedicated to films about the Uranium atom and the possible dangers to Planet Earth’s environment and the very survival of humanity, from both its military and peaceful uses. It includes both documentary and fiction films on issues like: Uranium mining, nuclear power plants, atomic bombs, nuclear waste, radioactive risks, nuclear medicine, Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. Many of these films screened during the festival are critically acclaimed international award winning documentaries. The best and most important productions receive the festival award “Yellow Oscar”.

This festival is unique as it is the only festival in the world dedicated to this vitally important global issue. Marcia Gomes de Oliveira, Brazilian social scientist and filmmaker, is the Executive Director of the festival, and Norbert G. Suchanek, the German writer and filmmaker, is the General Director of the festival.

The Uranium Film Festival starts from Rio de Janeiro and then travels to other cities around the world. This year, for the first time, the festival travels to India. Shriprakash, the National Award winning film-maker from Ranchi, is the festival coordinator in India. The festival is being organised in 8 Indian cities: New Delhi, Shillong, Ranchi, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Trichur and Mumbai.

We will be screening a total of 16 films during these 5 days. The films are extremely rare and top-quality films by some of the world’s most famous documentary makers, and so if you are interested in the issue of atomic bombs and atomic energy, these are a must-see.

The discussion following the screenings would be coordinated by Norbert Suchanek, Marcia Gomes, Shriprakash and Neeraj Jain.

Inauguration of the festival takes place on January 27 at 6 pm at the Balgandharva Rangmandir, followed by screenings of two films, ATOMIC BOMBS ON PLANET EARTH and INTO ETERNITY. I shall be sending you the exact schedule of films in a few days.

Note: We are organising the Uranium Film Festival as a part of the Vasundhara Film Festival. We were invited to be a part of the organising committee of the Vasundhara Film Festival, and we agreed and proposed that they co-host the Uranium Film Festival, to which they agreed.

Program 3:

Seminar on:

Global Warming: Myths and Facts

Speakers:

Soumya Dutta, Scientist, Researcher and Activist, based in Delhi, National Convenor, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha; Convenor, Energy and Climate Change Group, Beyond Copenhagen Collective.

J. Srinivasana, Ph. D. from Stanford; presently Chairman of Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Lead Author of IPCC fourth assessment report, 2004-2007 and Review Editor of the IPCC report on Climate Change.

Date:  January 30, Tuesday

Time:  2 – 5 pm

Venue: College of Engineering, Shivaji Nagar, Pune.

(This seminar is being co-hosted with the Vasundhara Film Festival and Janeev, a social-environmental student club of COEP.)

Program 4:

Seminar on:

Sustainable Solutions to India’s Energy Crisis

Speakers:

Admiral (retd.) Laxminarayan Ramdas, Vir Chakra, Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal awardee; former Chief of Indian Naval; awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award for peace; active campaigner on environmental issues for many years.

Soumya Dutta, Scientist, Researcher and Activist, from Delhi; National Convenor, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha; Convenor of climate and energy group, Beyond Copenhagen Collective (India); member, South Asian Dialogue on Ecological Democracy.

Neeraj Jain, Electrical Engineer, Writer and Activist; associated with Lokayat, an activist group based in Pune; author of: Nuclear Energy, Technology from Hell, published by Aakar Books, New Delhi.

Date: January 31, Thursday

Time: 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm

Venue: Seminar Hall, Fourth Floor, Marathawada Mitra Mandal’s College of Engineering, Karve Road, Behind Vandevi Temple, Pune.

(This seminar is also being co-hosted with Vasundhara Film Festival.)

Entry is free to all the above-mentioned programs. 

Other Programs

Apart from the formal programs mentioned above, Lokayat continues its campaign to create awareness about the social roots of violence against women. After talks by Prof Uma Chakravorty, we have had numerous talks by Lokayat activists in various colleges of Pune on the subject, stagings of the play Mulgi Zhali Ho and also stagings of our play on female infanticide, Ek Nai Shuruaat, film screenings of women-related films, and street campaigns on the roads of Pune on the subject. We also continue to organise lectures on various other issues in various colleges, and our cultural group has also organised numerous cultural programs all over Pune, For more details of these programs, you may visit the Lokayat Website.

Do join us for some of these programs. And if you are interested in joining us actively, rather than just attending these programs, do come down to our Sunday meetings from 4 to 7 pm every Sunday at the Lokayat hall.

in solidarity,

Neeraj

 

The nuclear family


NEW DELHI, January 3, 2013

Budhaditya Bhattacharya, The Hindu

 Nuke look: A still from 'Jadugoda: The Black Magic'.
  • Nuke look: A still from ‘Jadugoda: The Black Magic’.
  • Norbert G. Suchanek.
    Norbert G. Suchanek.

The International Uranium Film Festival travels to India

The debate about nuclear energy in India has in the last few years become a hotly contested one. But there is a predictability to how it plays out; usually on TV screens with a fixed cast of ‘experts’ who articulate their positions pro or contra. The stories and views of affected persons are conspicuous by their absence.

For the smaller picture to emerge, it is sometimes necessary to engage the bigger screen. And the International Uranium Film Festival was born out of this necessity. The festival, starting today, will go on till January 6 at the Siri Fort Auditorium in Delhi and travel thereafter to Shillong, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Thrissur.

“I had the idea in 2006. I was at an international meeting about uranium mining in the U.S. and there I saw many films about mining and nuclear problems, films that I’ve never seen on television… and so I thought well, we have to do something. These films must be shown to the public,” explains Norbert G. Suchanek, an environmental journalist, filmmaker and festival director.

Norbert tells of the paradox that while developed countries like Germany are phasing out nuclear power, countries like Brazil and India are pushing the nuclear agenda relentlessly. “How can a democracy force nuclear power on its people?” he asks.

His film “The Speech of The Chief”, co-directed by Marcia Gomes de Oliveira, is predominantly in the form of an interview with the chief of the indigenous tribe Guarani Mbyá of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and presents his “strong prophetic speech” about nuclear energy, ecology and the future. He tells of the problems faced by the people, living under the constant shadow of two nuclear power stations.

The festival’s journey to India has been co-ordinated by Ranchi-based filmmaker Shri Prakash, whose film “Jadugoda: The Black Magic” documents the devastating health effects of uranium mining in the area of Jadugoda in Jharkhand.

The 30 or so films being screened at the festival come from Ukraine, USA, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Poland, among others, and range from the documentary to the fictional and animated, over short and long formats. The sheer breadth of stories, coupled with the presence of some of the people who documented them, will benefit film students greatly, suggests Shri Prakash. “They can come and learn how to document complicated issues and how to translate their feelings onto film.”

But as filmmakers themselves, what mode of expression do they think is best suited to their anti-nuclear politics?

“The format doesn’t matter, the point is what the documentation shows. Because the problem is an invisible one,” says Marcia.

“I think we should use every format possible to explain what is going on. For example, an animated film has the power to show something invisible like radioactivity. Sometimes you need to show emotions, and there you need feature films and documentaries,” explains Norbert.

He points to the Swedish film “Coffee Break” to explain his point further. “It’s a comic suspense film about the Chernobyl disaster. A comedy about the nuclear disaster has never been done before! I am waiting for a soap opera about the life of a nuclear engineer.”

 

Bollywood stars could act in the romances around nuclear contamination’


Author(s): Anupam Chakravartty, downtoearth
Date: Jan 4, 2013

So says Brazilian environmental journalist Norbert Suchanek who is travelling with his film festival across the world. One of its kind, the Travelling International Uranium Film Festival will be inaugurated in New Delhi on January 4. Anupam Chakravartty caught up with Suchanek in New Delhi on the festival and his ideas on films as medium of message:

Norbert SuchanekNorbert SuchanekHow did you come up with the idea for this festival?

The idea occurred to us in 2010. I live in Rio De Janeiro. The city will be the hub of energy of the future. It has been also called Latin America’s capital of nuclear energy as Brazil National Commission for Energy is situated here. There are two nuclear power plants that power the city, while another one is under construction.

The city’s coastline will also host a nuclear submarine manufactured with French and German collaboration. Rio has uranium mines. We found that use of uranium or other radioactive elements for our day-to-day life in the city is crucial to residents of the city. Therefore we invited entries from all across the world in 2010 from film makers to showcase their films on uranium or other radioactive elements. We organised the first festival in Rio De Janeiro on May 2011.

It appears that your festival is about anti-nuclear protests. How many films were a part of the first festival?

bookThis festival is not anti-nuclear or anti-radioactive festival. We just invite films made on radioactive elements from across the world. If a film maker has good things to say about radioactive elements, they are most welcome to this festival. For the first festival, there were 90 entries, of which 40 to 45 films were selected for the Rio. We received films from across the world.

The first festival saw 3,000 school children participating from Rio. We decided that we would take it all the coastal cities of Brazil and then move to other countries. At this point, we decided to make this festival into a global one as we got very response from Rio. It has been to various cities in Brazil including Sao Paulo and to Lisbon in Portugal and Berlin. This is the first festival in Asia. We have been invited to Singapore and Tokyo.

You have a large number of entries from Uranium-rich states such as United States of America and Australia. Why did you decide to go to Lisbon?

The second task of this festival is to cross the language gap. We have found that there are several films on radioactive elements or activity in English but there is not a single film in Portuguese, although Portugal happens to be one of the oldest producer of uUranium in the world. The first uranium bomb was designed using the Portuguese mines.

Host cities

Delhi is hosting a unique film festival for the first time in Asia focusing on nuclear energy and materials. Started by a Brazilian environmental journalist, Norbert Suchanek and social scientist, Marcia Gomes de Oliveira in 2010, The Travelling International Uranium Film Festival will be inaugurated in New Delhi on January 4.

The festival will be on the road to major Indian cities like Ranchi, Shillong, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and finally end its journey as a part of Vibgyor International Film Festival in Thrissur of Kerela in February, 2013. It will be a three day event in each location. The screening of the films would be followed by an interactive session where audience can raise their issues,concerns and queries before the organizers.

Language is a very important factor to bring the discussion on nuclear or radioactive activity to the people. Now Portugal plans to start mining in Angola where Portuguese is understood.

How did you decide to come to India? Did any incident or protest trigger your visit to this part of the world?

I have been in touch with Sriprakash, an award winning Indian film maker, for a long time since we conceived this festival. We had decided earlier to bring this festival to India. Brazilian and Indian government are also working very closely with each other which also includes the field of nuclear energy. Therefore, we decided to that it is a good time to be in India.

I am aware of anti-nuclear protests in southern India. This year the festival has Yellow Oscar nominee, Shri Prakash’s film Jadugoda the Black Magic. For the May 2013 festival in Rio, we have three films from India centred around the protests in southern India.

What are your personal views about nuclear energy?

I worked as a chemical engineer, after which I worked as an environmental journalist and film maker. My experience in technical chemistry shows that radioactive elements could be extremely dangerous. In the past, several accidents have occurred from nuclear wastes which we cannot control. However, the nuclear wastes is also about radioactivity.

Even the wastes generated from Radio Therapy Units of the hospital are radioactive. Caesium 137, used as medicine for cancer treatment, was made out nuclear wastes from weapons manufacturing. Therefore, the discussion about nuclear energy or radioactivity should not be stuck in the higher level of politics. It has a far greater impact and questions like ‘Do we want to take a large risk?’ should be available to everyone.

Why did you chose a film festival to discuss issues related to nuclear and radioactive materials?

Films are the best and the most common medium to open the discussion to the people. I would love to have Bollywood stars acting in a film related to radioactive contamination or a romance centred around a chemical engineer facing the risks of a nuclear disaster.