A short, Canadian-made documentary, produced by the National Film Board
in 1982. If You Love This Planet
won an Academy Award
for best short documentary in 1983. It was then blacklisted
in the United States, and potentially, anyone who went to see it could be faced with jail time.
The film itself is very simple. Directed by British Columbia native and SFU alumnus Terri Nash, who later changed the spelling of her first name to Terre, (French for Earth) it features Dr. Helen Caldicott giving a lecture to some university students in the U.S. on the realities of nuclear war. Her lecture was backed up by quotes from Medical Journals, (whose names escape my memory). Interspersed with her lecture is archival footage of nuclear bomb tests, victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and footage of the bombings themselves.
The American Department of Justice did not want the film shown in the United States. They said it was propaganda. However, the only propaganda that exists in this film is at the end of Dr. Caldicott's lecture, where she begins with the statement "If you love this planet, and I am deeply in love with it..." and then encourages her audience to speak out and do something about all the weapons. Weapons she says, that are capable of killing every Russian 4 times over.
She also goes into ghastly detail about what would happen after the United States fired nuclear weapons at Russia (this was at the "height of the cold war"), and quoted the 151 times the Pentagon's computer has malfunctioned and indicated that Russia had fired nukes at the U.S.
Terre won an Oscar for this short, but later gave it away to Gerry Rogers at the closing Gala of the St. John's International Women's Film & Video Festival, the premiere of Roger's film MY LEFT BREAST, a documentary about her struggle with cancer.
"It was an honour to receive this Oscar", she said "but it is more of an honour to give it away--to Gerry for her extraordinary honesty and artistry."
figure out a way to see this short film. do it