Manhattan Project Film Series Coming To SALA In July


The Manhattan Project remains one of the most intriguing and controversial events in modern history. It was a time when a group of brilliant scientists came together in Los Alamos and elsewhere to develop the world’s first atomic bomb. It was a time of secrecy and intense pressure, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Decades later, the story of the Manhattan Project is still being told and retold from different perspectives. Witness the much anticipated upcoming July release of Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer scheduled to play at SALA beginning in late July.  Leading up to that release, SALA’s’ Manhattan Project Film Series is a must-see for history buffs, science enthusiasts, people who appreciate great storytelling, and anyone interested in this pivotal moment in history.  Audiences will experience a variety of filmmaker perspectives from the last 75 years of films telling stories about the Manhattan Project.

“We believe that this will be the first Manhattan Project Film Series that has ever been put together anywhere”, said Allan Saenz, owner of the SALA Los Alamos Event Center.  “We have no idea of how the story will be told in the upcoming Hollywood film, but by presenting a range of film perspectives through this series we think that viewers will benefit from the added context.”

The Manhattan Project Film Series is being sponsored by Suzette Fox and Paula Glover, co-owners of New Mexico Real Estate Group – Los Alamos. 

“Their sponsorship has made it possible for 100% of the proceeds from series ticket sales to go to four Los Alamos non-profit history organizations”, said Saenz.

Fox noted that she and Glover loved the idea when they heard about it.

“Sponsoring a community event to benefit multiple local non-profits is a natural for us.  We both have deep roots in the community and its history, she said.

New Mexico Real Estate Group – Los Alamos is a locally-owned, full-service real estate company with offices located in the Small Business Center.

Beneficiary organizations are the Los Alamos Historical Society, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee, Friends of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, and the Bradbury Science Museum Association. 

“All of our organizations are so appreciative to New Mexico Real Estate Group – Los Alamos for their sponsorship and to SALA for organizing and hosting the series,” said Leslie Linke of the Historical Society.  “It is a great example of a couple of local businesses figuring out how to support non-profits in our community.” 

Series passes are available from the four organizations and 100% of the proceeds from their sales stays with the organization you purchase from.

The Manhattan Project Film Series, curated by Los Alamos historian Aimee Slaughter, explores how the Manhattan Project has been captured on film, by many people and in many places: in historic footage, in documentaries, in Hollywood blockbusters, and more. People have been making and watching films about the Project for more than 75 years—why is the Manhattan Project story one that we keep retelling?  Together, the films in the series illuminate many different aspects of the Manhattan Project and its meanings. Our imaginings of what the Project was and what it means to us change over time. The films span the 1940s to the present and illustrate some of the ways our understandings of the Manhattan Project have changed, and continue to change.  Whenever possible, guest emcees will be engaged to introduce the films and facilitate discussion afterwards. Each film will be placed into context and you will be given a groundwork for considering how the film connects to the past and the present.

Volunteer film series curator Aimee Slaughter works as a public historian, with strong interests in how communities engage with uncomfortable histories and in the history of radioactivity. She has training in history and in physics, and earned her PhD in the history of science, technology, and medicine from the University of Minnesota in 2013. She has shared and co-created stories from the history of Los Alamos with visitors and with locals for the past decade.

Series passes for admission to all films are $70.  100% of the proceeds from series pass sales stay with the organization that the pass is purchased from.  You can purchase passes from:

  • Los Alamos Historical Society – Visit the Los Alamos History Museum just north of Fuller Lodge (Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.).  One complimentary guided walking tour ticket will be included with the purchase of your series pass from the Los Alamos Historical Society, a value of $25.
  • J Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee – contact JJ Mortensen at
  • Friends of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park – contact Dave Miko at 505-709-8229
  • Bradbury Science Museum Association Visit the Gadget gift shop at the Bradbury Science Museum (Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.)

Aimee Slaughter, curator for the film series says there are a surprising number of films about the Manhattan Project, especially when considering the broad scope of the Project and the wide range of perspectives filmmakers have brought to this history. She started with a list provided by SALA with more than 60 films on it, and went on to find many more.

“In selecting films, I tried to represent a variety of perspectives across seven decades of filmmaking—documentaries, Hollywood blockbusters, some historic footage, and everything in between. I’m hoping audiences will get a sense of what perspectives on the history of the Manhattan Project have (and haven’t) been shared on the big screen over time,” Slaughter said.

She noted that there are so many stories of the Manhattan Project.

“I hope audiences will learn more about the history of the Project—and also explore how the stories we tell about it have changed over time, and how those stories reflect our feelings about both the past and the present,” Slaughter said.

Asked what are some of the challenges of curating a historical film series, Slaughter said there’s just not enough time to watch all the films out there.

“It helped to set a fairly tight focus on the Manhattan Project itself when selecting films, there’s such a rich collection of Cold War-focused films out there that will just have to wait for future screenings,” she said.