As the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches, Philip Gilligan reports on the inaugural screening of a film celebrating decades of anti-nuclear campaigning.
Now More Than Ever: The Story of Greater Manchester CND by Hannah Ellul and Leanne Green (approx. 33 mins) had its inaugural screening at the Three Minute Theatre in Manchester’s Affleck’s Palace on 31 July 2015, revealing the undaunted commitment, enthusiasm and determination of disarmament campaigners over several decades. The film features interviews, conversations and discussions with Greater Manchester activists about their campaigning and motivation, interspersed with footage of recent actions at the Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire and at the Ministry of Defence.
Long-time activist Betty Tebbs, in conversation with actress and campaigner Maxine Peake, recalls how the crimes against humanity perpetrated in August 1945 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused her to pledge her life to working for peace and the eradication of nuclear weapons, while Maxine Peake speaks of the inspiration she drew from Betty’s life of activism after being asked to perform readings from her memoirs. Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group recall the Cuban missile crisis as a point when many recognised that US and Soviet nuclear arsenals threatened to obliterate the entire planet. Hazel Roy remembers Greater Manchester’s involvement with the women’s peace camp and actions at Greenham Common, while Amy Gilligan speaks of her teenage work experience at the Greater Manchester CND office and the inspiration she drew from meeting survivors (hibakusha) of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima when she visited Japan on behalf of CND in 2005. Others emphasise the significance of their involvement in campaigning against the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and of the importance of CND’s collaboration with the Stop the War Coalition and wider peace movement in opposing the wider military-industrial complex.
However, perhaps of most interest to campaigners and activists will be Pat Sanchez’s account of her court appearance in Glasgow following arrest at the Faslane base for obstruction. Filmed against the background of this year’s blockade at Burghfield, Pat recalls how, in court a month after her arrest, two different police officers offered identical evidence which insisted that she had been entirely alone when arrested. Pat was defending herself and queried whether they had not noticed her friend with a large fluffy red tail. They claimed they had not and stuck to their apparently well rehearsed statements, until Pat produced a somewhat telling photograph of herself lying next to several comrades, including the one dressed in a giant squirrel costume and holding a banner saying ‘Nuts to Trident’!
Now More Than Ever inspires and informs, and, at times, it amuses. It shows the strength in depth of the peace and anti-nuclear movement and the importance of friendship, solidarity and good humour to the success of campaigning. Catch it, if you can.
Philip Gilligan is the chair of Greater Manchester and District CND.
Further details available from Greater Manchester & District CND, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, Manchester, M4 7HR. Tel: 0161 273 8283. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org