Veteran Aussie documaker David Bradbury blows hot and cold in “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Initially a potent cry against the use of depleted uranium in modern warfare, film spins off into speculation on the side effects of increased U.S. military presence in Oz. World preemed at the Sydney festival and declared by its maker as “probably unsellable” to local broadcasters, docu should still secure local distribution (and spark plenty of heated discussion) thanks to Bradbury’s crusading rep and the controversial subject matter. Offshore, this will win hearts and minds in fests and specialized tube engagements.
Film hits the spot in early sections dealing with the human cost of weapons loaded with depleted uranium that have been employed in both Gulf Wars and the Balkan conflict. Clearly laid-out technical information and heart-wrenching photos of deformed children born in affected areas of Iraq are backed up by testimony of star witness Doug Rokke, a former U.S. military scientist diagnosed with cancer following field trips to 1991 Gulf War bomb sites.
Per Rokke, there is no safe disposal method for debris carrying depleted uranium, and dispersed particles can affect areas within a thousand-mile radius. Situation looks even darker when world wind patterns are brought into the frame.
Shifting to a disapproving history of U.S.-Australian military relations, Bradbury launches a full-tilt attack on the build-up of U.S. military personnel and weapons on Aussie sites.
In one of pic’s few genuine knockout blows, a U.S. official’s denial of such weapons being transported to Australia is followed by a naval officer admitting an American warship docked in Perth is armed with the offending articles.
Docu spends much of its later running time on the story of a shockingly deformed baby born to a couple living near a U.S. installation in Queensland. Suggestion is that nearby weapons testing could be responsible, though no hard evidence is presented.
While there’s no doubting the sincerity of Bradbury’s intentions and the persuasive power of narrator Lisa Peers’ conversational tone, end result is a grab bag of too many “what-ifs” and insufficient nailing of core concerns. Production values of self-financed DV project are barely adequate and ragged at times.