About the Film

From the director of the groundbreaking film Food, Inc., and the executive producer of the Oscar-nominated film Last Days in Vietnam, comes Command and Control, the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, the chilling new documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us. The film features the minute-by-minute accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders who were on the scene that night. Command and Control reveals the unlikely chain of events that caused the accident and the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States – a warhead 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Woven through the Damascus story is a riveting history of America’s nuclear weapons program, from World War II through the Cold War, much of it based on recently declassified documents. A cautionary tale of freak accidents, near misses, human fallibility and extraordinary heroism, Command and Control forces viewers to confront the great dilemma that the U.S. has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age: how do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them?

Filmed in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo in Arizona, Command and Control is directed by Robert Kenner, and written by Kenner and Eric Schlosser. The film is produced by Kenner, Melissa Robledo, Mark Samels and Schlosser.


About the Team

Robert Kenner (Producer/Director/Writer) has won an array of awards and garnered rave reviews for his documentary work exposing some of today’s least talked of, but most impactful, social and environmental issues. His film Food, Inc. was nominated for an Academy Award and won two Emmys. His most recent documentary, Merchants of Doubt reveals how pundits-for-hire have succeeded in spreading confusion about public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change. Kenner received Peabody, Emmy, and Grierson Awards for his American Experience film, Two Days in October, an insightful examination of two key events during the Vietnam Conflict and how they shaped Americans’ views of the war. Other films for American Experience include Influenza 1918, John Brown’s Holy War and War Letters. Kenner was co-filmmaker with Richard Pearce on The Road to Memphis for Martin Scorsese’s series, The Blues. Kenner has directed a number of specials for HBO and National Geographic as well as award-winning commercials and corporate videos for eBay, Hewlett Packard, Hallmark, and others.

To learn more, visit Robert Kenner Films.

Credit: Kodiak Greenwood

Eric Schlosser (Producer/Writer) is the author of Command and Control, the book upon which the film is based. As an investigative journalist, Schlosser tries to explore subjects ignored by the mainstream media and give a voice to people at the margins of society. Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation helped start a revolution in how Americans think about what they eat. It has been translated into more than twenty languages and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for two years. His other books include Reefer Madness and Chew on This. Schlosser has spoken on the subject of nuclear weapon safety at the United Nations, the U.S. House of Representatives, the Parliaments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway, the Sandia National Laboratory, and the headquarters of the National Nuclear Security Administration. Schlosser served as an executive producer and co-wrote the feature film Fast Food Nation, and was also an executive producer of There Will Be Blood. He was co-producer and co-narrator of the Oscar-nominated documentary, Food, Inc., also directed by Robert Kenner.

Mark Samels (Producer/Executive Producer of American Experience) is the executive producer of American Experience, PBS’s flagship history series. Samels conceives of, commissions and oversees all American Experience films.

In his tenure at the series, Samels has overseen more than 120 films, expanding both the breadth of subjects and the filmmaking style embraced by the series, allowing for more contemporary topics and more witness-driven storytelling. Beginning his career as an independent documentary filmmaker, he held production executive positions at public television stations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania before joining WGBH. Samels is a founding member of the International Documentary Association and has served as a governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Samels holds honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Emerson College and Elizabethtown College.

Mark Adler (Music) is an Emmy-winning composer and longtime collaborator of Robert Kenner having scored eleven of his documentaries, most recently Food, Inc. and Merchants of Doubt. He has scored numerous National Geographic specials, TV movies and Oscar-nominated feature documentaries, as well as a series theme for American Experience. A regular at the Sundance Film Festival, he scored the Audience Award-winning Miramax film Picture Bride. Other feature credits include Paramount Classics’ Focus, starring William H. Macy and Laura Dern; Wayne Wang’s Eat a Bowl of Tea; Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, with Robert Carlyle and Marisa Tomei; and Bottle Shock, featuring Alan Rickman. Adler won an Emmy for HBO's The Rat Pack and received a nomination for Hallmark Entertainment’s Forbidden Territory: Stantley’s Search for Livingston.

Kim Roberts (Editor) is an Emmy-winning editor of feature documentaries. Her recent work includes The Hunting Ground, Merchants of Doubt, Waiting for Superman, Food, Inc. and Inequality For All. Kim won an Emmy for Autism the Musical, her third nomination. She was also nominated for an Eddie award for Food, Inc. and Waiting for Superman from the American Cinema Editors. Her other films include: Oscar Nominees and Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners Daughter from Danang and Long Night's Journey into Day; American Revolutionary: the Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs; Two Days in October; Last Call at the Oasis; Made in L.A.; The Fall of Fujimori; Lost Boys of Sudan; Daddy & Papa and A Hard Straight. Kim received her Masters Degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University, where she won a Student Academy Award. She is an active member of the Academy of Cinema Editors (ACE) and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Melissa Robledo (Producer) is an Emmy-winning documentary producer whose recent work includes Producers Guild Award nominee Merchants of Doubt, Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy-winning Food, Inc. and When Strangers Click for HBO. Melissa co-produced The Road to Memphis for Martin Scorsese’s series, The Blues and the American Experience film War Letters. She has contributed to a variety of films for Participant Media, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and PBS. Melissa received her Masters Degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University.

Directed by Robert Kenner
Screenplay by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser
Story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts
Based on the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser
Produced by Robert Kenner, Melissa Robledo, Mark Samels and Eric Schlosser
Edited by Kim Roberts, A.C.E.
Directors of Photography Paul Goldsmith and Jay Redmond
Music by Mark Adler


About American Experience

For more than 27 years, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been television’s most-watched history series. The series has been hailed as “peerless” (The Wall Street Journal), “the most consistently enriching program on television” (Chicago Tribune), and “a beacon of intelligence and purpose” (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, and 17 George Foster Peabody Awards; the series received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2015 for Last Days in Vietnam.

Exclusive corporate funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.