Category All , Current Affairs , Ecology and Animal Stories , Science (with a touch of social)
Year: 2007
Country: New Zealand
Running Time: 58'
Production: Megan Jones & Justin Pemberton
Director: Justin Pemberton
Official Website:

The Nuclear Lobby has been quite successful in recent years as the number of nuclear power plants on the planet is set to double. There are currently 443 nuclear power plants operating in the world. 62 are under construction. 156 and planned a further 322 are proposed. The countries that are starting a new nuclear program: Poland, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates.

In a world living in fear of climate change, the nuclear industry has put its hand up as a solution, claiming that nuclear power generation produces zero carbon emissions. We have witnessed the start of a global nuclear renaissance. With the earth's electricity consumption expecting to double in the next 25 years, the nuclear industry claims that nuclear power is the only large-scale method of power production that can reliably replace coal, gas or oil-fired power plants. However, many people have an inherent fear of things nuclear. Is it time we learnt to love the split atom? Or, is there a risk that we might be jumping out of the carbon frying pan and into the plutonium fire? Despite nuclear power's so-called environmental merits, scientists claim that it is producing a 100,000-year legacy of radioactive waste - for which there is not yet any permanent storage; that the power stations are known terrorist targets; and that the industry has a reputation for human error and accidents, cover-ups and is linked to nuclear weapons. Not to speak about plants build on fault lines (earthquake danger) This film goes on a worldwide tour of the nuclear industry in search of answers.

More on Film

In a world where the burning of fossil fuels is fast becoming one of the most important issues facing mankind, nuclear power is back on the agenda, raising it's head as a credible energy source for an increasingly power-hungry human race.

In New Zealand, where I come from, we haven't really talked about it much. After all, we were the first country in the world to pass anti-nuclear legislation, and we pride ourselves on our clean and green reputation.

However, in the past couple years, I've noticed that more than a few energy providers, policy makers, scientists and environmentalists have joined forces to suggest that the world needs to embrace nuclear power again. In fact they've gone as far as to say it's clean and green - impossible!

So what is the real story?

I gathered an artillery of arguments for and against nuclear power then set off around the globe for heated debates with nuclear energy producers, uranium miners, pro-nuclear greenies, nuclear waste disposers, scientists and skeptics.

Theres no doubt that the planet is in danger of choking on its carbon emissions and we've got to find other ways to stoke our machines.

Could nuclear power save the planet? And if so, what would we lose on the roundabouts?

I was amazed to be allowed full access to nuclear power plants and a uranium mine, to the contaminated Sellafield site in the UK and the Chernobyl plant in the Ukraine. The nuclear industry seemed keen to open its doors - and to talk about past mistakes and how we might learn to love it again.

I realised that while my country is in a privileged position, the international decision on whether to embrace a nuclear revival has global consequences.

I believe the film lays the key cards on the table in the revived nuclear debate. The nuclear industry has some aces and some spades. Its now up to us to decide how much we want to stake on the nuclear hand.

The scary thing is we may now be gambling with our planet's survival.

More about Director

Justin Pemberton

Justin Pemberton has been directing documentaries from New Zealand, the UK & US for 15 years. He was a founding director of the successful New Zealand documentary company The TV Set along with fellow filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly.

Justin won the award for Achievement in Directing (Documentary) at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards in consecutively in 2007 and 2008.

Aside from documentary, he is also an established music video director. He holds a degree in psychology and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Communication from the University of Auckland.

He now heads his own production company called The Docufactory.

Festivals & Awards

2007 DOC New Zealand Film Festival
Won Best New Zealand Documentary Feature Award

2007 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands

2008 Cinemambiente International Environmental Film Festival, Italy
Won Best Documentary Award

2008 Göteborg International Film Festival, Sweden

2008 Rodos Film Festival, Greece
Runner-up Best Medium Length Documentary Award

2008 Reel Earth Film Festival, New Zealand
Won Best Documentary Award

2008 South African International Documentary Film Festival

2008 Festival Internacional de Cine Documental, Mexico

2008 Green International Film Festival, South Korea

2008 Globale Berlin Film Festival, Germany

2008 Pärnu International Film, Estonia

2009 Cinema Planeta, Mexico

2009 One World Film Festival, Czech Republic

Press & Reviews

“The industry sees climate change as its saviour, as a way of making the nuclear industry look environmentally friendly, which to be frank, it never has done."
Rob Edwards, Nuclear Correspondent, NEW SCIENTIST

"Pemberton achieves a rare feat... it is engaging, nuanced and avoids preaching its cause."

"We have absolutely no choice. We need to turn to nuclear energy because it is both clean, safe and abundant enough to ensure the survival of our civilization."
Bruno Comby, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy