Archives / 2012 Sundance Film Festival

The Atomic States of America

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Director: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce

Screenwriters: Based on the book by Kelly McMasters

Institute History

Description

Based on Kelly McMasters’s memoir about growing up in a nuclear-reactor community, this stirring film illustrates the dire health consequences for many residents in Shirley, her Long Island hometown. Yet despite the known risks of utilizing nuclear power, our country’s rapidly increasing energy needs are fueling a nuclear renaissance.

Acutely topical—given the recent Fukushima disaster in Japan—The Atomic States of America convincingly encapsulates both the history of this allegedly clean source of energy and our collective denial of a potentially looming disaster at our aging sites. Firsthand narratives from people connected to the nuclear industry blend with the behind-the-scenes debacle of maintaining legitimate regulation.

Potent, emotionally powerful, and highly revealing, Don Argott and Sheena Joyce’s film does an outstanding job of opening our eyes to the reality of nuclear power. “We all live downstream from something,” McMasters reminds us in this cautionary call to action.


(Archives note: see also Don Argott and Sheen M. Joyce's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— L.V.

Screening Details

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