In a small American city, innocent people and children are facing deadly health issues because of deception, disinformation, and corporate greed taking precedence over the health and safety of everyday citizens.
We have reviewed many of director Stacey Stone and her producing partner Diane Mellen’s documentaries here on Screen Critix over the years. Starting in 2014 with Man Behind 55’000 Dresses, each one has been thoroughly entertaining and very well received. Toxic Sh!t is a 65-minute documentary that will anger you, upset you, and leave you questioning how any government could care so little for the health and safety of the very public who elected them in the first place.
It’s a tale as old as time, corporations putting profits before people, but unlike Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, there is no happy ending here. In 1959 a major nuclear disaster occurred which was covered up for over twenty years; a nuclear testing facility had a meltdown and significantly contaminated the small town of Simi Valley situated just forty miles away from LA. The estimated radiation release was estimated to be 240 times the fallout from Three Mile Island, often cited as the most significant accident in US Nuclear history. Since then Simi Valley has seen an above-average amount of its population suffer from cancer-related illnesses. Opening with a hip-hop track and credits that wouldn’t look out of place in a Guy Ritchie movie, we are thrown straight into this small town where the community is rightfully upset, confused, and angry.
Stone has been banging the environmental drum in many of the films she has been involved in for well over thirteen years now and no doubt she will still be banging the drum in another thirteen years. Meanwhile, her producer Diane Mellen gets an important and prominent role in Toxic Sh!t, and calling her “angry as hell” would be a major understatement.
Much like her Hollywood contemporary Michael Moore, Stone is able to put the boot in and make her political points stick by injecting each revelation with dark humour, but it isn’t scripted black humour, it’s simply highlighting the ridiculousness of the real-life situation that emits our gasps, like the innocent childhood habits of locals who would go and play in the ‘pretty green water’, a shop manager who reels off five close friends and family (including himself) who have all had cancer or the straight-faced denials of men in suits confronted with statistical evidence.
The cinematography is always interesting and keeps the documentary moving along at a great pace. There are talking heads here, but the editing cuts between the locals telling their stories over drone shots of different parts of town, close-ups of evidence found in files, photos of those affected, and facts and figures that appear across the screen. The most powerful moments of the film come from the mothers who have lost their children through cancer and these scenes are absolutely heart-breaking.
“I don’t understand how people don’t get it, how people don’t care. How they don’t take action when they see friends, their family, their loved ones getting sick and dying. How can they not do something about it? How can they just ignore it, turn their head, walk away, and continue like nothing is wrong” cries one helpless and grief-stricken mother.
What also makes Toxic Sh!t stand out is the appearance of the late, great, Emmy award-winning acting legend Ed Asner. His voiceover work is easily some of the best Stone has ever had in her films and his gravitas helps hit home the seriousness of the situation.
After watching this stunning documentary I can say without any shadow of a doubt that Stacey Stone cares, Diane Mellen cares. and they are doing their very best to bring all of these issues out into the open and to the attention of the wider public and the correct authorities.
See this hugely important film as soon as you can.