Los Alamos, Mon Amour: Gone with the Downwind

A newspaper clipping glimpsed in a new documentary is headlined “New Mexico’s Infant Mortality Highest in U.S., Report Says.” Lois Lipman’s film explains why that rate is so high for babies, as well as for others, especially Indigenous and Hispanic inhabitants, in her gripping First We Bombed in New Mexico. Onscreen Tina Cordova, born and raised at Tularosa, only 30 miles from the Trinity Site, declares: “We are the first victims of the atomic bomb.” While the title of Lipman’s gripping 95-minute chronicle may be derived from Joseph Heller’s 1967 satirical antiwar play We Bombed in New Haven, this new production, which won jury and audience awards at the Santa Fe International Film Festival, is in the tradition of anti-nuclear bomb nonfiction classics such as 1982’s The Atomic Café, Judy Irving/Chris Beaver’s 1982 Dark Circle, Jim Heddle’s 1984 Strategic Trust: The Making of Nuclear Free Palau, Dennis O’Rourke’s 1986 Half Life, and Robert Stone’s 1988 Oscar-nominated Radio Bikini.

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Ed Rampell was named after legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Senator Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College and is an L.A.-based film historian/critic who co-organized the 2017 70th anniversary Blacklist remembrance at the Writers Guild theater in Beverly Hills and was a moderator at 2019’s “Blacklist Exiles in Mexico” filmfest and conference at the San Francisco Art Institute. Rampell co-presented “The Hollywood Ten at 75” film series at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and is the author of Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States and co-author of The Hawaii Movie and Television Book.    

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