The unbelievable true story of 1983’s THE DAY AFTER, a rogue director’s “what if” post-nuclear war television film that shocked a nation and, maybe, helped bring an end to the Cold War.
In the early 1980s, millions of families across the US faithfully tuned in every weekend to The ABC Sunday Night Movie. This hodgepodge of recent blockbusters and made-for-TV programs usually offered a comforting distraction from the looming threat of the nuclear power behind the Iron Curtain and steered water cooler conversation from Brezhnev toward Bond. So few could have foreseen the record-breaking ratings or monumental impact of a graphic, disturbing film about post-nuclear war America titled THE DAY AFTER — except possibly ABC’s motion picture president Brandon Stoddard and bad boy director Nicholas Meyer (of WRATH OF KHAN fame). Together the two embarked on a historic gamble to create a film that captured the horrific fallout of nuclear warfare in a manner so believable that viewers, including President Ronald Regan, were shaken to the bone. Director Jeff Daniels deftly combs through reels and reels of archival footage from the era to recreate the paranoia and fear of the unknown that permeated the cultural landscape. Using the wildly entertaining television spectacle as a jumping off point, Daniels conceives a deeper understanding of the time period while offering a black mirror of the nation’s current state of affairs.
In Competition: Documentary Feature
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