NEW YORK — Rory Kennedy’s documentary, “Indian Point: Imagining the Unimaginable,” centers on that two-word question: What if? What would happen if terrorists attacked Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan?
Kennedy, the youngest of Ethel and Robert Kennedy’s 11 children, seeks to answer that question in an hour-long documentary airing Sept. 9 on HBO in tandem with “Chernobyl Heart,” a film by Maryann De Leo that chronicles the effects of the world’s worst nuclear power accident.
This story first appeared in the August 24, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Nothing actually happens in the course of [my] film, thank god,” Kennedy says, sitting in an HBO editing room. “But I think what we can see is that, from Chernobyl, if something were to happen, this is the consequence. The fact that 20 million people live within a 50-mile radius [of Indian Point] and that New York City could be uninhabitable — is it worth 2,000 megawatts of energy? No.”
To that end, Kennedy does not take an objective stance. She and her brother, Bobby, a leading environmental advocate who is featured in the film, believe the plant should be shut down. And though she spoke with people on both sides of the issue, being a Kennedy didn’t help her score face time with New York politicos New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Charles Schumer or Gov. George Pataki, all of whom declined to be interviewed.
Kennedy, 35, has been making what she refers to as “vérité-style” documentaries since her senior year at Brown University. While “Indian Point” is based mostly on interviews, archival footage and graphics, her other films — including “American Hollow,” about an Appalachian family, and “Pandemic: Facing AIDS,” about five people in different parts of the world living with AIDS — seek, as she puts it, to “follow a situation as it unfolds.”
In these cases, she says, it is sometimes easier to gain the trust of people who know about her family and their history. “Most of the films I’ve made are about people who have been marginalized,” she explains. “And I think for a lot of that population there’s a sense that my family has fought for the rights and the voices of those people.”
And while she doesn’t plan to run for any type of public office, she remains invested in politics: She held a fund-raiser for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry earlier this year and plans to show “Indian Point” to policy makers in Washington on the eve of its premiere.
She had to skip the Democratic National Convention, though. Two weeks earlier, she gave birth to her second child, Bridget, with her husband, screenwriter Mark Bailey. The entire family (daughter Georgia is two) just relocated from Manhattan to Brooklyn, four blocks away from Moxie Firecracker, the production company she runs with Brown chum Liz Garbus.
“I actually stayed [in Brooklyn] for the first time last night, and we moved while I was in the hospital,” she says, wryly cautioning, “It’s really great to move and have a baby at the same time. I highly recommend it.”
— Jamie Rosen