Sunday, May 25, 2008

Film to Reveal Effects of Atomic Bomb Testing on Downwinders

Film to Reveal Effects of Atomic Bomb Testing on Downwinders
By: Elizabeth Dansie
The Z-Arts! monthly film series will screen two short films about the effects of the 1951-62 atomic bomb testing at the Nevada Test Site on people downwind from the test site living in Southern Utah. The films will be presented Friday, May 23, at 7 p.m. at the Canyon Community Center in Springdale.
The two 30-minute films, “Down Wind: A Legacy of Suffering” and “Life Was Good: The Claudia Peterson Story” will be screened as part of the monthly film series put on by Z-Arts!
Sandra Walsh, the author of the book “Down Wind” which the film by the same name is based on, will be present at the screening to offer additional insight on the subject. Congressman Jim Matheson has also been invited and schedule permitting will be present.
“Congressman Matheson has been very instrumental in helping the down-winders get compensation,” Donnette Atiyah, Z-Arts! film series chair, said.
Walsh, former resident of Parowan and cancer survivor, wrote the book “Down Wind” because she had kept a journal about living through the period of the above ground atomic bomb testing.
“My children didn’t know about the large effects,” Walsh said. “After I got cancer, I wrote it to help other down-winders.”
Walsh has had cancer seven times and just recently found out she has cancer for the eighth time. Three of her children died of cancer, her two living children have had cancer, both her parents died of cancer and 13 of her aunts and uncles died of cancer.
Walsh thinks the film based on her book was well done.
“It explains so much,” Walsh said. “People don’t know the magnitude of the bombs.”
She hopes her book and the film will raise more awareness of the effects the testing had, and continues to have, on down-winders.
Walsh will bring forms to the screening that down-winders can file for compensation. She will help down-winders fill out the forms and get that compensation.
“Life was Good: the Claudia Peterson Story” was produced by Academy Award winner Steven Okasaki.
“’Life Was Good’ is a moving portrait of one American family whose lives were tragically altered by the misfortune of living next to the Nevada Test Site. At the center of both the film and the family is Claudia Peterson, a 40-year-old cashier at a supermarket in St. George, Utah,” states the films Web site
“Life Was Good” won the UNESCO Award in 1996 for outstanding production promoting the awareness of the dangers of nuclear testing.
The screening is free and open to the public. For more information on this film or any of the Z-Arts! presentations, visit “” or contact Donnette Atiyah at 635-5692 or April Gates at 632-8669.

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