Starting off last week at Visions du Réel in Nyon, "Into Eternity" is next on to Tribeca Film Festival and Toronto Hot Docs.
Not a bad start on the international scene for Michael Madsen's documentary about the construction of the world's first permanent repository for radioactive waste, a five-kilometer tunnel system that must remain sealed for at least 100.000 years.
In a wondrous manner the film investigates the ethical, aesthetic and technical aspects of the waste problem and takes us on a journey deep into in the Finnish bedrock and ahead onto an unfathomably distant future, the main challenge being how to communicate the radiation danger to our descendants.
US plans for new nuclear power plant
Timing has proven to be just right for the film's launching, says producer Lise Lense-Møller, who was behind the award-laden "Burma VJ – Reporting from a Closed Country".
"With the American premiere at Tribeca the film hits the market at a time when debates in the US on nuclear power as a solution to climate changes are heated. Longstanding plans for the Nevadan Yucca Mountain as storage facility have just been abandoned – a repository along the lines of the one in Finland."
"At the same time the US government are backing a plan to build the first nuclear power plant in nearly three decades in trying to find a plentiful energy source that is carbon emission neutral – still without having solved the waste problem."
Compares to A Space Odyssey
The general reaction has been one of amazement and fascination for the film's fresh approach. Still, much to Lise Lense-Møller's surprise, "Into Eternity" has hit the mark with a young, especially male audience who appreciate the science fiction quality in Michael Madsen's treatment, the film in itself conceived as a message to the future.
"We've even had some compare the film to Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' because of its charged imagery that they have found deeply haunting. We could have treated the subject matter very academically, but the overall concept has definitely attracted a more off-beat audience."
Magic Hour Films and their Finnish coproducers are working on showing the film in various parliaments, including the EU, to make it part of the pending questions about nuclear energy and the, as of yet, unsolved waste problems.
IndieWire: Tribeca '10: Director Michael Madsen Goes Underground for "Into Eternity"