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Filming the Fallout

State of the Arts


Published October 19, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.

True to the name of the Vermont International Film Festival, one of the documentaries being shown next week examines nuclear power on both the global and state levels.

Hillary Archer’s “Transparent Radiation: Rethinking the Future of Nuclear Power” actually focuses more on the macro, referring only briefly to the Vermont Yankee nuke plant, the 24-year-old filmmaker notes. She says she was inspired to examine the global atomic energy industry while vacationing in the Virgin Islands during the same week that Japan was plunged into a radiation emergency. The earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11 caused triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

Archer had all the resources she needed to make the envisioned film after returning to Vermont. She works as a video producer at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. More than 20 of its resident experts were interviewed for “Transparent Radiation,” which also features some slick graphics of Archer’s making. She won an award at the university’s 2010 film festival for “Triangle,” which Archer describes as “an experimental art film.”

The new film aims to correct what Archer calls “common misconceptions” about nuclear power by “rendering old arguments transparent and empowering new perspectives.”

She’s clearly timely in her choice of topics. Archer’s next project will be a video of a teach-in pertaining to the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Burlington-area residents will have additional opportunities to learn about matters nuclear during the next few weeks. The Fletcher Free Library is showing a series of films and talks under the heading “The Terrible Twins” (atomic reactors and atomic weapons) on October 26 and November 16. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen will speak about the physics and the effects of the Fukushima disaster as part of the October 26 event.

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