FIRST WE BOMBED NEW MEXICO
Anyone getting ready to vote Oppenheimer for best picture should first have to watch Lois Lipman’s First We Bombed New Mexico. America has much to reckon with when it comes to the legacy of the nuclear bomb – much of it on our own shores. This documentary potently explores further dark shadows this scientific achievement has left behind.
The documentary follows Tina Cordova as she advocates for herself and her fellow “downwinders.” Downwinders are innocent bystanders who may have suffered negative health effects from the Trinity test – the 1945 detonation of a newly developed nuclear weapon in New Mexico.
Cordova speaks for the many citizens who were unwillingly and unknowingly exposed to the radiation from the nuclear test. She is a compelling lead figure, warm and driven.
The anecdotes from the immediate aftermath of the nuclear test are truly horrifying. One particularly striking recounting involves children playing with what they thought was “warm snow, but may have actually been nuclear fallout. Still more disturbing is the potential generational effects of the test. There are recounts of stillbirths, of children born without eyes, and of widespread cases of cancer across the affected communities. Cordova herself is a thyroid cancer survivor, the 4th generation in her family to have cancer since the test in 1945.
The struggles of Cordova and her fellow downwinders seem relentless. Their end goals – formal recognition and an apology from the US government – seem so meager in comparison to the widespread challenges they face. It is easy for the audience to lose hope. Those expecting a neat resolution will be disappointed. But for those willing to explore the messy history behind Trinity, this documentary proves a worthwhile watch.
An inspiring Hispanic cancer survivor bangs on the corridors of power to fight for compensation and an apology for Native and Hispanic communities in New Mexico whose land and water was radiated by the Trinity Bomb.
WINNER OF THE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE JURY AWARD
AT THE 2023 AUSTIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER OF THE AUDIENCE CHOICE BEST COMPETITION DOCUMENTARY AT THE 2023
SANTA FE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Official Film Website: FirstWeBombedNewMexico.com
X (Twitter): @FirstWeBombedNM