A little-known true story of the horrifically adverse effects suffered by workers utilizing radioactive materials in the early days of its discovery will be the focus of the latest in the Ross Ragland Theater’s Science on Screen film series with a screening of “Radium Girls” on Sunday, April 11 at 2 p.m.
The film is based on true events, portraying the women who suffered severe health effects as a result of handling radioactive radium in the 1920s by painting numbers on watch dials. The women working in watch factories were encouraged to lick paint brushes first to tighten the brush point prior to painting on small numbers on watch dials, so that the numbers would glow at night due to self-luminous paint. The result was ingestion of radioactive materials, and a subsequent fight by the workers for safe working conditions.
Released in 2018, the film is a narrative tale re-enacting the plight of women enduring severe medical problems as a result of radiation poisoning despite being told that the paint was harmless. The survivors filed a lawsuit against their employers in New Jersey that became a landmark step towards safe working conditions and labor rights.
The film stars Joey King, Abby Quinn, Cara Seymour and Scott Shepherd. “Radium Girls” won two awards upon its release and nominated for two others, including selection as “Best o f the Best” at the 2018 Adirondack Film Festival, and the 2021 Women Film Critics Circle Award WFCC Award for Best Ensemble.
In the wake of the discovery of radioactive materials by Marie Curie, it became incredibly popular top use radioactive materials in products prior to the discovery of adverse effects of radiation. In addition to the manufacture of items such as watch dials, atomic products were widely used in everything from beauty products to items that promised health and vitality but instead gave the users cancer.
The film continues the Ross Ragland Theater’s Science on Screen film series – presenting documentaries and narrative features that offer a scientific look at life and technology through film. The event is sponsors by Klamath Community College and will include a discussion with guest speakers following the film.
Tickets for Radium Girls are $10. For more information visit www.rrtheater.org.