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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, September 18, 2014 - Edition No 915 
Reckoning

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COUNTDOWN TO ZERO

SYNOPSIS:
There are 23,350 nuclear weapons in storage, despite both the US and Russia having downsized their nuclear arsenals by about two thirds. Making nuclear weapons is no longer that far beyond the reach of states or even terrorist organizations. And the chances of accident remain surprisingly high. But the world can take steps to be a safer place.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
By miscalculation, accident or madness (not to mention badness), mankind, or much of it, could evaporate in a nuclear cloud. The risk is increased if you include intentional nuclear attack, launched by a crazed terrorist group or some rogue state asserting its new powerful weapon. Scary? Very. Think New York, London, Madrid, Bali, Mumbai ... Iran and North Korea. Oh, and Pakistan, an unstable country with enough material to build 100 atom bombs - and Osama bin Laden in hiding.

And the film adds a new level of scare: the level of security guarding the raw materials needed to make a nuclear bomb is in many instances (notably in Russia) is lower than for potatoes, says one man to make the point. And all the black market seizures of nuclear-useful materials were pure luck.

Starting with this high voltage position, the film grabs our attention. It then methodically explores how nuclear accidents are waiting to happen - and have happened. How miscalculations have lead to near miss nuclear war.

Expertly researched and documented, the film is persuasive and frightening. With access to some impressively credentialed interview subjects, director Lucy Walker paints an alarming picture of how man's harnessing of nuclear power has become the primary threat of mankind's destruction - while simultaneously holding out the promise as mankind's most useful source of energy.

The film concludes with a clearly articulated program that could see nuclear weapons eliminated from the world; and everyone wants it.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

COUNTDOWN TO ZERO (PG)
(US, 2010)

CAST: Documentary featuring Valerie Plame Wilson, Graham Allison, James Baker III, Bruce Blair, Tony Blair, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Robert McNamara

PRODUCER: Lawrence Bender,

DIRECTOR: Lucy Walker

SCRIPT: Lucy Walker

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Chappell, Gary Clarke, Bryan Donnell, Nick Higgins

EDITOR: Brad Fuller, Brian Johnson

MUSIC: Peter Golub

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Accent

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne: February 10, 2011 (other cities to follow)







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