Trailer Talk: ‘The University of Nuclear Bombs’


“It’s almost inconceivable to realize that every nuclear weapon the U.S. has ever had has been designed by one university, the University of California.”

Any documentary featuring Daniel Ellsberg gets my attention. He’s the primary loan star whistle blower from the Vietnam War days and it’s his quote above that opens the trailer for The University of Nuclear Bombs.

Joined by others like Noam Chomsky, MIT professor and political activist, and Helen Caldicott, M.D., the premier world advocate against both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, makes this documentary a must-see.

From the trailer we see that students at the University of California are protesting the fact that UC has been subsidized by the government since WWII for managing the two nuclear laboratories used for nuclear research, Los Alamos and Laurence Livermore.

Students jam a UC Regents meeting with their request that UC discontinue association with the nuclear industry. There are demonstrations, police, signs and a hunger strike.

Production Quality

The clips from the trailer appear to be interviews intermixed with archived TV footage, a common documentary technique. Comments from the older famous dissidents juxtaposed with the young students’ voices is a passing of the torch and a nod to iconic mentors who inspire and legitimize this new protest.


All these accolades aside, I’m a little worried that there might be a novice aspect to this documentary. Plus, playing a graduation march for background music might be a little Michael Moore-ish. That kind of cynical humor doesn’t always play well for the potential conservative audience you are earnestly trying to impress and transform.

And frankly, and I understand this is not socially polite to say, but a couple of the spokespeople came across as, well, maybe weirdoes – not from what they said, but from what they looked like. You know, long-haired guru-type sitting yoga style dressed in orange with an orange Indian bedspread on the wall.

These characters delivered gratuitous statements – adding nothing in the trailer that others didn’t say.

The over-arching issue is serious and if students could possibly influence communities to join them in protesting the continued research and manufacture of nuclear weapons through the auspices of a publicly funded institution, then alienation of your target audience should not even be unintentional.

The goal would be for this documentary to get as much attention and win as many awards as possible so that it garners a wide viewing audience.

The issue, a public university manipulated to become what Ellsberg calls “one of the most immoral and unethical institutions in the country,” is a moral battle that needs to be exposed.

In a clever statement by a protester at the Regents meeting, one student, dressed in a graduation gown and hat says, “I’m very embarrassed to be receiving a diploma from a university whose slogan is ‘Let there be light’ but that is the light of a nuclear holocaust.”

A quote by Noam Chomsky, “I don’t think any university should tolerate being involved with weapon users” summarizes the travesty of using public universities, funded by state tax dollars to create products for the destruction of the world. Come on!

Who made this film and where is it going?

The director-filmmakers, Joshua King and Mohamed Elsawi, followed The Coalition for Demilitarization of UC, formed in 2002, for two years in creating this film.

It was shown in February at the 2010 Santa Barbara International Film Festival and I suspect it will be soon listed as an entry at the biggest and most highly-attended film festival in the US, the 36th Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), May 20 to June 13. Films will be listed there on May 6 at

Source: Trailer Addict

Length: 0 hour, 55 minutes
Directed by: Joshua King, Mohamed Elsawi

Released: 2010 USA

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4 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Disco #

    Intriguing …

  2. Peripatetically Perplexed #

    Bev Questad is keenly insightful in handling the difficult topic covered by this documentary. She tackles the subject with objectivity and grace. The dilemma of weaponry escalation for self-protection versus a pacifistic resignation for protection of the planet, is not easily resolved. Violence begets violence, but pacifism does not always beget peace.

  3. annielicious14 #

    Very interesting………

  4. 4

    …A post I read a while ago over at

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