The most traumatic experience at Cannes so far was the horror film to end all horror films, during which I experienced a 90-minute anxiety attack. British documentary-maker Lucy Walker presented us with her Countdown to Zero, for which the tagline should be: How I Learned to Start Worrying and Fear the Bomb. Her film is about the ubiquity of nuclear weapons and the simply terrifying amount of weapons-grade material that is sloshing about, unaccounted for, after the breakup of the Soviet Union – material that terrorists would love to get their hands on. Nukes are a subject that we have long made a semi-conscious decision to ignore. Walker powerfully revives the subject, touching on how we could have a nuclear detonation from terrorists or the Dr Strangelove scenario – a “legitimate” attack by accident. Walker has interviewed former intelligence and military personnel and statesmen, including Gorbachev and Tony Blair. There are some extraordinary facts, the most stunning of which is that we came far closer to nuclear war in 1995 than we did during the Cuban missile crisis. That year, a Norwegian scientific research rocket was mistaken for a US attack by the Soviets, and generals marched into president Boris Yeltsin’s office… Read full this story
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