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Atomic Cover-Up 2022

Highly Recommended

Distributed by The Video Project, 145 - 9th St., Suite 230, San Francisco, CA 94103; 800-475-2638
Produced by Greg Mitchell and Suzanne Mitchell
Directed by Greg Mitchell
Streaming, 52 mins

High School - General Adult
Documentaries; Nuclear Weapons; World War II

Date Entered: 05/10/2023

Reviewed by Michael Pasqualoni, Librarian for Public Communications, Syracuse University Libraries

A sobering journey taking us back to the first uses of atomic weapons in warfare. Director Greg Mitchell has assembled extensive archival footage captured on celluloid by both U.S. and Japanese cinematographers just days following bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. This is a tale of those filmmaker’s diligence, as well as a United States government that kept the fuller vision of the human devastation of those bombings hidden from the public for a quarter century. Atomic Cover-Up brings one face to face with the many civilian casualties and other victims of those weapons of mass destruction. Images that in full have been rarely encountered rightly convey the profoundly horrific impacts on human life, alongside an appropriate restraint that refrains from cluttering the documentary with an excess of secondary scholarly or professional analysis (e.g., did the bombs need to be dropped in order for Japan to surrender?). Important analytical topics are raised along these lines, without question, but are fortunately spared any excess of expert talking heads posting their opinions. Points of view are evident, but the central emphasis here is on impacts more so than interpretation. And if ever there was a testament to the failings of expert culture, the results we see in this film speak eloquently to that.

Presaging the increasingly ubiquitous presence of cameras we have grown to accept, instantaneously capturing professional and citizen photojournalism from any number of conflicts and world events, this chronicle of filmmakers at Nagasaki and Hiroshima represents a crucial contribution to the historical record of one of most pivotal moments in modern warfare. A moving original score by London based composer, Charlie Seaborn, also deserves mention. With a core running time conducive to classroom screenings, Atomic Cover-Up is essential viewing for faculty and students exploring World War II, military journalism, atomic weapons, Asian studies, and civilian casualties of war. Some students of film studies and filmmaking may also be attracted to this title.

Uranium International Film Festival, Best Documentary; Barrymore Film Center, Best Documentary Short; Ridgewood Film Festival, Best Documentary; Venice Shorts Film Festival, Runner-Up Best Documentary

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