By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
Every year, the Tribeca Festival is home to the debut of many unique stories that exist in various forms. From narrative features, to short films, to documentaries, Tribeca highlights a number of incredible stories across different mediums that are sure to grab the attention of the viewer.
Debuting this week and competing in the documentary competition at Tribeca, Richland is the story of a small town in the state of Washington that has a far bigger history than what many might believe because of its role in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the Atomic Bomb. During the top secret experiments in the 1940s, many workers crafted the materials that were used to create the bomb.
This history with nuclear technology is ingrained deeply within the identity of Richland. The high school football team proudly wear the symbol of a nuclear mushroom cloud on their jerseys, for instance.
Richland is directed by Irene Lusztig, whose previous work includes Reconstruction, The Motherhood Archives, and Yours in Sisterhood. Richland nicely accompanies Lusztig’s previous film Yours in Sisterhood in similarly examining communities, or in this case a community, in extraordinary detail. The film also features some gorgeous cinematography from Helki Frantzen.
Richland succeeds as an insightful, captivating documentary feature that peels back the curtain on an aspect of one of the most important scientific and political developments in modern history. Lusztig’s film is clearly not only on interested in the historical context, but, more strikingly, is focused on the real human beings as well. The personal focus allows the audience to see the opinions, sometimes differing, of those living in Richland as they reconcile and grapple with the town’s connection to the atomic bomb.
Richland is also an extremely timely documentary as well. The release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is scheduled for next month, and the acclaimed director is set to tell the story of the primary scientist at the heart of the Manhattan Project. Richland feels like a great companion piece to Oppenheimer and audiences who want to learn more about this key piece of history.
Check out the trailer for Richland here, courtesy of Deadline.