Countdown to Zero is sure to scare anyone who watches it out of their "ignorance is bliss" attitude towards nuclear weaponry. The film, which premieres today, is directed by Lucy Walker and produced by Participant Media, the same organization that brought us An Inconvenient Truth. Asia Society will be screening the film today and tomorrow in DC, followed by an expert panel discussion about the film on the Tuesday, July 27.
Countdown to Zero uses the familiar, go-to documentary format of pairing old images of atomic bombs and nuclear destruction with expert and man on the street interviews. The combination isn't original, but it works. Mushroom clouds, plus naive citizens admitting how clueless they are about nukes, combined with impressive talking heads like President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf, and Tony Blair telling us there is no option but complete elimination of nuclear weapons is enough to convince any audience that nuclear disarmament needs to happen now.
The film also acknowledges that this task won't be an easy one. Currently, nine nations are in possession of nuclear weapon capabilities and many others are eager to join them. An act of terrorism, or even an accident could mean world-wide catastrophe.
The good news is that Countdown to Zero aims to do more than scare the crap out of everyone. There is some hope for the elimination of nuclear weapons. For example, the Obama administration's recent nuclear arms treaty with Russia is a step in the right direction. At the end of the film, viewers are urged to sign the Global Zero declaration, which calls for the worldwide elimination of atomic bombs.