“Atomic Cover-Up” Arrives

Early acclaim for new documentary, now heading for festival in Rio after world premiere. “It is the visual equivalent of John Hersey’s classic 1946 New Yorker article and Hiroshima book,” one reviewer writes.

The documentary that I wrote and directed, Atomic Cover-up, received its world premiere in late-March at the Cinequest Film Festival, to extraordinary notices (see below). Next: The long-running International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janiero, from May 20 to 30 — open to all, streaming online, for free, this year. Here is a festival page with listings, with link to the full program including two pages on Atomic Cover-up.

Now a few responses to the film, which exposes the decades-long U.S. suppression of key footage from Hiroshima & Nagasaki — in a story told exclusively by the U.S. military and Japanese teams who shot it. In addition, CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted out multiple links to the film. Media folks/reviewers can request a viewing now by writing me at: gregmitch34@gmail.com. Plus: here’s the two-minute trailer.

“What a great film and original concept. An absolutely crucial way to understanding all wars. Don’t be surprised if this documentary is a player at next year’s Oscars.” Rod Lurie, director of The Outpost, The Contender, others.

“Very powerful. Incredible unseen footage restored and the tale of the filmmakers who photographed the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” — Alex Gibney, Academy Award-winning director of Enron, Taxi to the Dark Side, Going Clear and others.

“A film worth the watch — and I hope many see it.” — David Folkenflik, National Public Radio

“We’ve been mightily distracted by COVID, but here’s a much-needed reminder of the gravest existential threat known to mankind, and the men who fought to bring it vividly to light.” — Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile and other non-fiction bestsellers

“Utterly haunting. You’ll never forget the opening scene: Japanese survivors singing ‘Silent Night’ in the ruins of a bombed-out Nagasaki cathedral. Must watch. Please watch. You’ll be glad you watched.” — Joan Walsh, The Nation, and producer of The Sit In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show.

“Greg Mitchell has done a great service to history in uncovering some of the most remarkable — and supremely sad — video journalism of the 20th Century. More than a movie, a legitimate historical document of almost unspeakable acts of war.” — Charles P. Pierce, Esquire magazine.

“When I was in college, I got my first look at a film that showed bodies being bulldozed into a large pit at Auschwitz. That imagery haunts me to this day as will what I saw just now in Atomic Coverup. It’s a devastating and necessary film, and a stark and humbling refresher course in why atomic weapons must never be used again.” — Wally Lamb, author of bestsellers I Know This Much is True, She’s Come Undone and others.

“So moving, disturbing and important.” — Alex Winter, director of The Panama Papers, Show Biz Kids and others, co-star of Bill & Ted movies.

“Everything I’ve ever seen from Greg Mitchell has shown me something I didn’t know or given me a fresh perspective on something I thought I already understood. And this is such a compelling subject.” — Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic and CNN

“It is the visual equivalent of John Hersey’s classic 1946 New Yorker article and book Hiroshima. Everyone should see it. We have never come to terms with the horror of what was done in our name in August 1945.” — Dan Kennedy, WGBH (PBS in Boston) and Media Nation.

“I admire it — excellent work on an essential topic.” — David Sterritt, legendary Christian Science Monitor critic, now editor of Quarterly Review of Film & Video

“After writing three books on the topic, Mitchell finally obtained the film footage that America’s leaders didn’t want you to see. It demands to be seen.” — Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer

“I consider Atomic Cover-Up to be essential viewing. If I had my way, I would add it to the civics curriculum for all high school seniors in the country.” — Scott Horton, contributing editor, Harper’s magazine, author of Lords of Secrecy

More responses below.

If this interests you, contact me at gregmitch34@gmail.com. Suzanne Mitchell (no relation) co-produced the film. Also, it was featured in a half-hour “Reel America” special on C-SPAN. I’ve written three books on this subject, including Atomic Cover-up and The Beginning or the End (on MGM’s wild atomic drama).

“An important work, one that’s essential education for a generation with less and less familiarity with the horror of nuclear weapons. A major contribution to our collective memory.” — Daniel M. Gold, New York Times film reviewer, 2009–2017

“You’ve been a real warrior on this issue.” — Oliver Stone

“One of 2021’s most important films….A devastating gut punch. It is a film of quiet and devastating power that will bend the knees of even those who think they know everything about the bombings.” — Steve Kopian, Unseen Films

“That scene in the cathedral….” — Rosanne Cash, singer-songwriter and award-winning author.

“Well done!” — Mark Gordon, producer, Saving Private Ryan, Midway, among many others

“My dad was among the first Americans into Nagasaki after the A-bomb. He told us squat. After watching Atomic Cover-Up, I understand why Dad wouldn’t tell us kids. Thanks, Greg Mitchell.” — David Beard, executive editor, National Geographic

“Amazing color footage on the human costs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…should be viewed in every high school and college history classroom.” — Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus, The Chairman, and other books.

“This documentary was literally four decades in the making. Check it out!” — David Corn, Mother Jones, author of several bestselling books.

The understatement of the film’s style lets the horror of the long-suppressed images do all the work. It is stunningly powerful.” — Harry Shearer, actor, “Le Show” host

“Regardless of your views, Greg Mitchell’s amazing work lets you make up your own mind.” — Sam Seder, Majority Report, NBC/Peacock

“Hearing so much good buzz about this one. Greg Mitchell may have a hit on his hands.” — Van Jones, CNN

“A very interesting film with a very important message, and the images are really horrifying.” –Patrick Vollrath, Academy Award-nominated director of 7500.

“A compelling new doc.” — Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

A note on the story of the film:

Atomic Cover-up is the first documentary to explore the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 from the unique perspective, words and startling images of the brave cameramen and directors who risked their lives filming in the irradiated aftermath. It reveals how this historic footage, created by a Japanese newsreel crew and then an elite U.S. Army team (who shot the only color reels), was seized, classified top secret, and then buried by American officials for decades to hide the full human costs of the bombings as a dangerous nuclear arms race raged. All the while, the producers of the footage made heroic efforts to find and expose their shocking film, to reveal truths of the atomic bombings that might halt nuclear proliferation. Atomic Cover-up represents, at least in part, the film they were not allowed to make, as well as a tribute to documentarians everywhere.

“Arresting and fascinating — horrifying all over again.” –Nicholson Baker, award-winning author of Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, and other books.

“A powerful and important documentary — extraordinary use of long-suppressed footage from Hiroshima & Nagasaki after the US dropped the Atomic bomb.” — Nina Bernstein, longtime New York Times investigative reporter.

“Incredibly powerful and important.” –Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gambling With Armageddon and A World Destroyed.

“The understated but brilliant documentary Atomic Cover-up reveals the story of the long-hidden eyewitness film record of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” — The Movie Gourmet

“Chilling.” — Sharon Grimberg, director of McCarthy and producer of dozens of other films for PBS’s American Experience

“Must-see.” — Bianca Jagger, human rights activist.

“The film is incredibly good. I was very moved by the story and by its urgency.” — Lyn Goldfarb, director of recent hit Edy’s World and producer of Academy Award-nominated With Babies and Banners

“So powerful” — Gary Krist, author of The Mirage Factory and other bestsellers.

“Best documentary I’ve seen since MLK/FBI. You’ll never forget it.” — Bill Geerhart, founder, CONELRAD

And more responses:

“Great film!” — Anthony Weller, author of First Into Nagasaki about his father whose newspaper reports were censored and disappeared for 60 years.

“Very powerful” — William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy

“Greg Mitchell has been a leading chronicler of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now he makes use of key interviews and documents to record an extremely important part of atomic bomb history that deserves far more attention today.” –Robert Jay Lifton, author of Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (winner of the National Book Award) and other acclaimed books.

“It’s very powerful. The images are gripping and the details of the cover-up certainly makes one wonder how nuclear policies might have been different had the footage been widely seen decades ago.” — Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch

“A sobering narrative on both the rending of a nation and its soul.” — Kent Tentschert, Times Newspapers

“Very compelling.” — Ben Loeterman, director, The War That Made America and other films for PBS.

“Profoundly important and superbly done. I hope the largest possible worldwide audience gets to see it soon.” — Robert L. Freedman, screenwriter, producer and Tony Award-winning writer.

“An incredible documentary thanks to Greg Mitchell and the men who were determined to bring this story to light. We must learn from the lessons.” — Nina Willner, author, Forty Autumns

“Excellent. Such an important story and you really did it justice.” — Ellin Stein, contributor Slate, New York magazine

“Crucial work. You’ve really hit a nerve.” — Michael Shaw, Reading the Pictures

“It is a powerful and must-watch film! These stories need to be told for the next generations.” — Yumi Tanaka, executive producer, New York Peace Film Festival

“So powerful that the video and words of the historical figures speak so loudly in the film. Well done!” — Robert Jacobs, author and professor, Hiroshima City University.

Author of “The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood — and America — Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” and 11 previous books, including “The Tunnels.”

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