A new Boing Boing special feature is up today: my interview with Lawrence Bender and Jeff Skoll (Cove, An Inconvenient Truth) about their new nuclear disarmament documentary Countdown to Zero. As they explain in our conversation, they believe there are two major "extinction-level" threats to the world today: one is climate change, which they tackled in An Inconvenient Truth. The other is nuclear weapons (by "accidents, miscalculation, or madness"), which they address now.
XENI: Your film may not be a feelgood movie, but you seem to be trying to leave viewers with a sense of empowerment, the idea that they can do something about this big, terrifying thing that has the potential to destroy all life on the planet.
BENDER: We didn't make the movie because we believe this is the end of the world. We made it because we believe we can prevent the end of the world from happening. The information is scary. Every time we screen the movie and there are young people in the audience and they say, "Whoah, I had no idea"--when you see the 18-22 year olds talk, the effect is staggering. They say "I feel so bad, I had no idea," but the other part of what they say is, "What can I do."
Faces you'll see in the film include Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf, Valerie Plame Wilson, and Tony Blair. Random fun fact I learned, watching the film: a big bag of weed is an excellent place to hide a rod of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). Also, an HEU specimen is about as big as, say, a shoe, and if you pack that inside a shoebox inside another box stacked in big rows of lots of crates on a cargo container, there's roughly zero chance of any inspector finding that before it enters the USA. Iran getting the bomb is scary, and an imminent possibility. Loose nukes out of the former USSR have already trickled on to the black market. And America is still on hairtrigger alert against Russia. Not a happy-fun film, but one that suggests a concrete path toward change.
☢ AN INCONVENIENT NUKE: Xeni Jardin interviews Jeff Skoll and Lawrence Bender on COUNTDOWN TO ZERO (A Boing Boing special feature)
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