January 1, 1970

Return of the Atom (Atomin paluu) is a feature documentary film by Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola.

Finland was the first country in the west to give permission to build a new nuclear power plant after the Chernobyl disaster (1986). The OL3 plant in Eurajoki is being built by the French nuclear company Areva and was supposed to be ready in five years (2004–2009), being a calling card for nuclear industry’s second coming globally. However, the project has faced serious problems in planning, construction and safety automation. The project is delayed over nine years at the moment. The film portrays the strange and stressful life in a small “nuclear town” during an era of nuclear renaissance. There’s hardly any anti-nuclear resistance in Eurajoki, which creates a tense, unspoken consensus amongst local inhabitants and leaves room for paranoid scenarios.

In November 2015 Return of the Atom was presented the NORDIC:DOX Award for Best Nordic Feature Documentary.

Jury statement:

“The winner of the 2015 CPH DOX Nordic award is Return Of The Atom, directed by Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola. Shot over eight years by the Finnish duo, Return Of The Atom looks at how the bureaucratic might of a massive scale European construction project impacts on the inhabitants of a small community. With clarity and sense of purpose, Return Of The Atom convincingly travels through the broad scales and global registers of the ramifications of building nuclear power stations in a post-Chernobyl world where decisions made by one nation or group can be potentially fatal for everyone else on our shared planet. From the individual characters who are confronted with a choice to either embrace the financial rewards of living in a nuclear town or try to resist the environmental and health dangers harnessing the atom brings, to the lazy and entropic bureaucratic labyrinth that accompanies such a megalithic project, Return Of The Atom is in turns sensitive, satirical, critical and bemused, taking a complex, rarely discussed topic and creating a serious but engaging, subtle and poised film.”

In February 2016 Pan sonic received The Jussi Award for the Best Film Score in 2015 (Return of the Atom).

Return of the Atom. Photo by Jussi Eerola / Kinotar
Return of the Atom. Photo by Jussi Eerola / Kinotar

watch film trailer

Selected screenings:

  • ICA, London, UK, 2017
  • Göteborg Film Festival, Sweden, 2016
  • DocPoint, Helsinki, Finland, 2016
  • IDFA, Amsterdam, 2015, “Best of the Fests”
  • CPH:DOX, Copenhagen, 2015, Nordic:DOX Award, European premiere
  • Toronto International Film Festival, 2015, “TIFF Docs”, World premiere