You perhaps haven't heard of Depleted Uranium weapons. Well, you perhaps should.
The Documentary Circle of the Hyderabad Film Club, in association with Magic Lantern Foundation, Delhi, and ECOMOVE International, Germany, is organizing a 3-day mini-festival of films on the politics of environment, called Point Of View. The films will be screened at the Prasad's Preview Theatre everyday, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, between 16th and 18th February.
Environment is a political issue, whether we like it or not. Today's conflicts are more about the control of natural resources than anything else. We see these conflicts in our day-to-day life, whether it is for control of land and water, or a question of who pollutes and who pays, they are all about people's problems, and thus influence the politics of our day. It is happening around us, but we do not realize it. And when there is a realization, there is a lack of perspective. The perspective doesn't happen because, more often than not, environmental film festivals talk about non-controversial issues.
Point Of View is a sincere effort to look beyond the obvious, to give a platform for the alternative voices and untold stories. Most of these films have enjoyed wide viewership and appreciation elsewhere in India and abroad. The films straddle a wide spectrum of subjects, from India becoming a dump yard for the wastes created by European consumerism to the effects of depleted Uranium on American soldiers; from fishermen's woes in Tamil Nadu to a lone woman's fight against a toxic dump in South Africa; from the World Bank's environmental politics to locals' anger against tourism in Goa, from the horror stories of genetic engineering in Canada to the scams behind flood control in Bihar.
Today, the second day, Downwind: Depleted Uranium Weapons, an Indo-American documentary by Jawed Metni, will be screened. Downwind draws a line from Hiroshima through the Nevada nuclear test site to the sands of Iraq and Kuwait, where thousands of soldiers and civilians were exposed to toxic, irradiating dust particles by the use of depleted Uranium tank penetrators. Used extensively in the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars, and in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, these DU weapons effectively destroy heavy armor and fortified bunkers, yet they release very fine Uranium Oxide particles, which may be inhaled or ingested.
Though the long-term effects are highly contested, there is little indication that the US military informed soldiers or civilians about the possible adverse health and environmental effects. Blending broad issues of history and memory with the near ubiquitous control of war imagery by the military, Downwind raises questions about the true human cost when the desire for total victory outweighs the moral obligations of humanitarian intervention.
The screenings are free for all. For further details, please contact Bh S S Prakash Reddy of the Hyderabad Film Club at 2373-0841/93910-20243.