Even when it’s ruining lives, bureaucracy is boring. And Indian Point, Ivy Meeropol’s new documentary about a nuclear power plant of that name, is riddled with tiresome bureaucratic wrangling at local and national levels.
How could it not be? Nuclear power is incredibly efficient and not much to look at, but highly dangerous if anything goes awry. That looming threat of danger, which is often obscured by the bureaucrats and workers in charge of containing it — numbed by their proximity to it — pushes at the edges of the film, threatening rupture like a nuclear reactor. This is the film’s most pleasing element: the way form follows function.
Indian Point is dull as an empty, automated factory floor, but out on the fringe of both the plant depicted and the film itself are activists demanding that Indian Point be shut down, proclaiming the dangers of a nuclear disaster so close to New York City — the plant is only about thirty miles up the Hudson — and making reference after reference to the Fukushima meltdown.
Meeropol interviews Indian Point workers, the plant’s owner, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Committee, and activists as well, creating a conversation among people who cannot, through their opposition, hear one another. Indian Point puts people’s lives in potential danger. It also creates jobs, and power, and it hasn’t exploded yet. Does old-school protest activism work? Would scientific reasoning be any more effective?
After three months of shutdown for dangerous leakage, one reactor at the plant was put back to work without fanfare last week. Someone needs to ask questions; here they are.
Directed by Ivy Meeropol
Distributed by First Run Features
Opens July 8 Film Society of Lincoln Center