When my father, Stanley Kramer, made the film ON THE BEACH back in 1959, its images of the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust frightened movie goers. The film, based on the novel of the same name by British author Nevil Shute, starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins and is set in Australia, where the last survivors of an all-out nuclear war await the inevitable arrival of a radio-active fallout cloud that will finish off the last people on Earth. The cautionary movie tale alarmed movie goers around the world. In the 50 plus years since then, the real dangers of the film's message remain as witnessed most recently with the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident.
For some, the shocking footage was a call to action. Dr. Helen Caldicott, who grew up in Melbourne, could never forget the images of the beautiful, elegant streets of her native city, "bereft of life and silent, as a blind gently flapped in the breeze, indicating the end of life on Earth" at the end of the film. The message was so potent that Dr. Caldicott made her life's mission to eradicate nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. Years later she became the subject of the short film IF YOU LOVE THIS PLANET -- a film about the dangers of nuclear weapons that won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject.
That's what my father, who was a maverick ahead of his time, and Nevil Shute were warning us about in the 1950s. President Kennedy would deliver the same message to the United Nations General Assembly in 1961 when he said, "Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when the planet may no longer be habitable."
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of my film series "Kat Kramer's Films That Change the World" we will be presenting the new documentary FALLOUT by Australian filmmaker Lawrence Johnston about the making of ON THE BEACH. Dr. Caldicott will make a special appearance, and will be on a Q & A Panel following the film featuring her longtime friend legendary Multi-Award winning actress/activist Lily Tomlin. This is Lily's third involvement with the film series. The other esteemed panelists are: Emmy and Academy Award winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr., Activist Ric O'Barry, who appeared in the Academy Award-winning film THE COVE, Nevil Shute's daughter Heather Mayfield, actress Donna Anderson, who appeared in ON THE BEACH and my mother, Golden Globe winning actress Karen Sharpe Kramer, who also appeared in FALLOUT.
Speaking of my mother, she and Lily Tomlin, who will introduce her longtime friend Dr. Caldicott at the event, have added some contributive thoughts here as well:
I had just spent a few days visiting my friend, Helen Caldicott, in Australia when I landed at LAX and heard the breaking news of the Fukushima tragedy. The tragedy was even more compelling to me since I'd left Dr. Caldicott only 20 hours earlier when we had been talking for days about the threat to humanity of nuclear armaments and power plants.
With awareness growing of climate warming and the consequences of our failure to develop clean, sustainable energy sources and other options to stabilize the planet and it's climate, we now face even more profound challenges to saving the human race from eventual extinction.
Based on the making of Stanley Kramer's film, ON THE BEACH, the documentary,
FALLOUT brings important attention to this challenge.
Karen Sharpe Kramer:
Stanley Kramer's landmark film ON THE BEACH was a stunning warning of things to come. The final lament 'There Is Still Time Brother.' Sadly, we've run out of time. What a shame. We never seem to listen, or learn anything.
Dr. Caldicott recently told me that she believes FALLOUT is ever more relevant today when everyone assumes that since the Cold War ended these hideous weapons were eliminated. In her words, "Thousands of hydrogen bombs remain ready to be launched with a press of a button in both Russia and the U.S., that every town in the U.S. with a population greater than 50,000 is targeted, along with all universities, factories and cities. These two countries possess 94 percent of all the 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world, with France, Israel, China, Britain, India, Pakistan and North Korea owning hundreds more. A nuclear holocaust could happen tonight through a computer error, hackers, human error triggered by a 9/11 attack, or a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan or elsewhere. Such an event would effectively invoke the On the Beach scenario, destroying most planetary life. Fallout is an imperative reminder of the ever-present danger under which we live and which most of us blithely ignore."
My father once said that he was always pursuing the next dream, hunting for the next truth. I am proudly following in his footsteps, hunting for the current "next truth." To that end, I am very excited to present Dr. Caldicott as the Keynote Speaker of my film series. I believe that FALLOUT and the discussion we will hold afterwards, will be informative and insightful, most particularly for young people who are our future leaders.
Fallout will screen at The Cannon USA, Inc. Screening Room 6060 Sunset Boulevard (near Gower Street), Hollywood, CA 90028. Arrivals will begin at 6:00 pm., followed by a reception at 6:30 p.m., with the program commencing at 7:30 p.m..
More About The Film:
FALLOUT, an 86-minute film, is written, directed and co-produced by Lawrence Johnson (Eternity, Life, Night) and produced and co-written by Peter Kaufman (Slipped, Insatiable, On The Side of the Angels). The film received its World Premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in Australia on July 28, 2013 to critical acclaim.