Atomic Bamboozle: The False Promise of a Nuclear Renaissance
The rebranding of a dying industry…
Project type: Nonfiction Feature
Project status: Engagement/Outreach
Director: Jan Haaken
Producer: Samantha Praus
Associate Producer: Cathy Sampson-Kruse
Associate Producer: Cathryn Chudy
Editor: Jeremiah Fueres
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Atomic Bamboozle follows anti-nuclear activists, tribal leaders, scientists and attorneys as they draw lessons from the decades-long campaign to shut down the Trojan Nuclear Power plant in Oregon and extend those lessons into a new struggle to stop small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) that are being aggressively promoted by the the Department of Energy and nuclear industry in response to the climate crisis.
As political pressure mounts in the US to meet net zero carbon goals, the nuclear power industry makes its case for a nuclear “renaissance.” In place of the highly costly nuclear towers that have been shut down across many regions of the country, investors began in the 2010s to promote small modular reactors (SMRs). Atomic Bamboozle follows anti-nuclear activist Lloyd Marbet and attorneys Greg Kafoury and Lauren Goldberg from the Columbia River region as they draw lessons from the decades-long fight to shut down the Trojan Nuclear Power plant in Oregon and reflect on current promotional campaigns for SMRs. As the nuclear industry mounts its “renaissance” with small reactors, these anti-nuclear activists forge alliances with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and tribal activist Cathy Sampson-Kruse who calls out the nuclear industry and politicians who are using the climate crisis to push for loosening laws restricting nuclear power generation. The historical arc of the film is anchored by physicist and professor M. V. Ramana, a global leader and recognized scholar on nuclear power. He traces the history of nuclear power generation from the 1950s to the present and takes up the four main arguments by the nuclear industry–a structuring device for the unfolding story of nuclear power.
Meet the Filmmakers
Jan Haaken – Director
Jan Haaken is professor emeritus of psychology at Portland State University, a clinical psychologist, and documentary filmmaker. Her recent feature films include Our Bodies Our Doctors (2019, and the two-part series: Necessity: Oil, Water & Climate Resistance and Necessity: Climate Justice & the Thin Green Line (2023). Our Bodies Our Doctors won Best Documentary Feature at the 2019 Portland International Film Festival, and Best of SIFF at the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival, where she also won the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision.
Samantha Praus – Producer
Samantha Praus is a queer, latine documentary filmmaker and researcher based in Portland, OR. Her most recent projects include the feature-length documentary series Necessity: Oil, Water & Climate Resistance (Co-director), Necessity: Climate Justice & the Thin Green Line (Co-director), and Our Bodies Our Doctors (Assistant Director)
Cathy Sampson-Kruse – Associate Producer
Cathy Sampson-Kruse is an enrolled member of the Waluulapum Tribe of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. She is a retired social worker, grandmother, and elder champion of the movement to stop fossil fuel export along the Columbia River, and a powerful and respected voice in protecting clean water from fossil fuels and nuclear waste. Cathy is on the advisory boards of Columbia Riverkeeper and the Civil Liberties Defense Center. She is an Associate Producer of Necessity: Climate Justice & the Thin Green Linea and also featured in the film.
Jeremiah Fueres – Editor
Jeremiah Fueres is a director, editor and videographer who provides post-production, live-event and commercial videography, educational course development and documentary storytelling services. He worked as Creative Director at REP Interactive, an award winning video marketing and production services agency. REP. Interactive helps companies use video to engage new clients, increase brand equity, and achieve communication goals.
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