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Yellow Cake - The Dirt Behind Uranium (Yellow Cake - Die Luege von der sauberen Energie)

Yellow Cake - The Dirt Behind Uranium
Scene from "Yellow Cake" (photo © umweltfilm)

The film accompanies the biggest clean-up operation in the history of uranium mining and takes the views to the big mines in Namibia, Australia and Canada.

Uranium mining, the first link in the chain of nuclear development, has managed again and again to keep itself out of the public eye. A web of propaganda, disinformation and lies covers its 65-year history. The third largest uranium mine in the world was located in the East German provinces of Saxony and Thuringia. Operating until the Reunification, it had the code name WISMUT though it supplied the Soviet Union exclusively with the much sought-after strategic resource Yellow Cake. Until 1990 WISMUT supplied the Soviet Union with 220,000 tons of uranium. In absolute terms this quantity was enough for the production of 32,000 Hiroshima bombs.

For the last 20 years WISMUT has been making a huge material and financial effort to come to terms with its past, which is an alarming present and future on other continents. For five years, the filmmakers accompanied the world’s largest sanitation project in the history of uranium mining. During that time the world market for uranium changed in a dramatic way. Uranium has advanced to become one of the most sought after resources in the world. While shooting this film, the price for uranium on the world market increased twenty times...


Joachim Tschirner was born in Wittenberge in 1948. He studied Aesthetics and Cultural Theory and began working at the DEFA Studio for Documentary Films in 1975, making his first film in 1980. His documentaries include: Say: Heaven. Even When There\'s None (1984), Canto General: The Great Song of Pablo Neruda and Mikis Theodorakis (1983), At the End, the Concert (1985), A Small Piece of Germany (1991, with Klaus Salge & Lew Hohmann), Kein Abschied - nur fort (1991, with Lew Hohmann), Maxhuette-Cycle (1987-1991), On the Seventh Day Over the Syr Darja (1992-1995), Sieben Tage - Da unten am Indian River (1995), Tapping (1993-1997), The Aral Sea - Where the Water Ends, the World Ends (1998), and Yellow Cake (2005-2010).
Genre Environment/Ecology
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2010
Director Joachim Tschirner
Screenplay Joachim Tschirner
Cinematography Robert Laatz, Jana Marsik, Lars Barthel, Johann Feindt, André Goetzmann, Christian Maletzke
Joachim Tschirner, Burghard Drachsel
Fred Krueger
Producer Joachim Tschirner
Co-Producer Klaus Salge
Production Company Um Welt Film Produktion/Berlin, in co-production with Novemberfilm/Berlin
Length 108 min
Format color
Original Version
 German, English
Subtitled Versions English, German
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from German Federal Film Board, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, BKM, DEFA Foundation, ARTE, RBB, MDR

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