The Atomic Cafe

The new 4K IndieCollect restoration of The Atomic Cafe, supervised by filmmakers Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty that is set to premiere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX, on Saturday, March 10, 2018, has been acquired by Kino Lorber Repertory for release in the U.S.  The newly-restored The Atomic Cafe will open in theaters nationwide during the summer––and receive a home media release during fall 2018.

Composed entirely of civil defense and propaganda films created by the U.S. military and other agencies, The Atomic Cafe exploded myths about nuclear weapons and landed the filmmakers on Late Night with David Letterman: see video below.

It created a sensation when it opened at the Film Forum in March 1982 and played around the country to capacity audiences, garnering extraordinary reviews, including from the New York Times, whose critic Vincent Canby called it “A stunner! Has one howling with laughter, horror and disbelief.”

With the White House hurling threats to use nuclear weapons, The Atomic Cafe is the perfect movie for our time––a darkly funny meditation on Armageddon. Using our government’s own films, it pulls back the curtain to expose how Americans were taught to “stop worrying and love the bomb.” A cute cartoon assures children that ducking under their desks will protect them from radiation. A U.S. Army officer asserts the atomic bomb is a beautiful sight “when viewed at a safe distance,” as we watch young soldiers running towards a mushroom cloud. With Cold War memes re-emerging in our public discourse, audiences will weep with laughter and pained recognition as they contemplate the deployment of “alternate facts,” then and now, to achieve a desired end.

“Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty have made a landmark film about the nuclear age that remains just as relevant and darkly comical today as it’s ever been,” wrote Kino Lorber CEO Richard Lorber. “We wish times were different. But at least we have The Atomic Cafe to expose the horrific prospect of the Armageddon with humor, style and historical perspective.”

“We’re delighted to be rereleasing the 4K digital restoration of The Atomic Cafe with Kino Lorber,” said filmmakers Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty. “Kino Lorber did an outstanding job distributing Kevin’s film Harvard Beats Yale 29 – 29 and we’re all looking forward to working with their dynamic team.”

The Atomic Cafe was deemed of such historic importance that it was named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2016. This 4K digital restoration was created by IndieCollect, a New York-based non-profit organization that saves and restores American independent films so that they can be seen in state-of-the-art digital formats. Funding was provided by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, administered through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

About the filmmakers:

Kevin Rafferty:
Kevin Rafferty began making movies as an undergraduate at Harvard in the late 1960s. His feature documentaries include Hurry Tomorrow, The Atomic Cafe, Blood in the Face, Feed, The Last Cigarette and Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. He has done commissioned films for television and contributed his camera work to such filmmakers as Michael Moore (Roger and Me) and Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker (The War Room). He wrote a book for Overlook Press based on his movie also entitled “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”

Jayne Loader:
Jayne Loader is the author of the novel “Between Pictures” and the short story collection “Wild America,” both published by Grove Press. She created the CD-ROM and website Public Shelter and WWWench, one of the first blogs, in 1995. In the 2000s, she and her husband, the astronomer Robert Kirshner, were the Masters of Quincy House at Harvard College. She lives in Portola Valley, California and Friendship, Maine.

Pierce Rafferty:
Following the release of The Atomic Cafe in 1982, Pierce Rafferty co-founded Petrified Films, an independent stock footage library located in the Meat Market District, New York City. From 1984 to 1994, Petrified’s holdings grew exponentially to include the stock footage libraries of Warner Bros. (pre-1951) and Columbia Pictures (pre-1965). In 1994, Petrified Films sold its collection of archival stock footage to Image Bank, a company later purchased by Getty Images. In 2002, Pierce moved to Fishers Island, NY, where he works as the director of the Henry L. Ferguson Museum.

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