The deadly attraction of working in secret to document early nuclear weapons tests
Akira ‘George’ Yoshitake (1929-2013) was a Japanese-American who was interned in the United States during the Second World War. He was also the last survivor of the secret civilian camera crew who filmed the US nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and the Pacific in the 1950s. The experimental short video Icarus pairs audio from an interview with Yoshitake with an abstract animation that becomes larger and seemingly moves closer as he describes experiencing the immense heat and power of the blasts. For the Barcelona-based director César Pesquera: ‘Icarus is a film about the fascination of looking, the greedy impulse of capturing images, the essence of filmmaking itself… The film also tells us about the risk of going too far, getting too close…’ While Yoshitake was aware that proximity to the nuclear explosions might have adverse health effects, he didn’t think of the work as deadly, as it would prove to be so for many of his colleagues.