Uranium Film Festival will bring forgotten nuclear stories to Salem

The biopic “Oppenheimer” got the world talking about nuclear weapons. Now, a group of Salemites is presenting stories the film left out.

The International Uranium Film Festival comes to Salem this weekend, bringing five movies to the screen that deal with the fallout of the Cold War and nuclear weapons manufacturing and testing across the world.

The screenings were organized by Nuclear Abolition Now, a year-old Salem group that’s a subsidiary of Oregon PeaceWorks.

Elizabeth Rose Parker, 75, one of the founding members, said she hopes to get more people talking about the impact of nuclear weapons and raise awareness that they still pose an existential threat to humanity.

“When I realized that nuclear weapons were developed in my lifetime and there’s been nothing done to lessen the threat … it terrifies me that that’s the legacy I’m leaving for my children and my grandchildren,” she said. “The development of small nuclear weapons is not being perceived as dangerous even though they still have the same problems with testing, development, waste, waste storage and (proliferation). Each one of those areas have dangers to the workers involved, to the people who live nearby.”

The films will be screened at Ike Box, 299 Cottage St. N.E., starting at 6 p.m. Friday, April 19, and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. A full schedule of films and summaries is here.

Friday’s lineup includes “The Man Who Saved the World,” a docu-drama about Stanislav Petrov, the Soviet air defense officer who made the pivotal decision not to launch a nuclear attack in 1983, when a warning system erroneously reported the U.S. had fired nuclear missiles.

Petrov determined — correctly — that the warning was likely a false alarm and disobeyed orders,  averting nuclear war.

Parker said the film “gives me hope that there are people who will recognize the danger of nuclear weapons and be able to avert it to save all of humanity.”

Films on Saturday focus on the impact of U.S. nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

The evening kicks off with a brief talk from Helen Jaccard of Veterans for Peace, who’s been behind the effort to restore the “Golden Rule,” a boat that sailed into a nuclear testing zone in the South Pacific in 1958 to halt testing. Now restored, the boat is traveling the world to promote peace.

Donations for the film festival are requested on a sliding scale of $5-20.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.