Director Lois Lipman’s fervent feature documentary First We Bombed New Mexico will have its West Coast premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) on January 8, 2024. The film follows inspiring New Mexico heroine Tina Cordova and her decade-long quest for justice – and the truth – as she catalyzes a grassroots movement of local Hispanic and Native American mothers seeking compensation from Congress for generations of cancers caused by Trinity’s radioactive fallout that covered their land with a strange, warm snow-like substance.

First We Bombed New Mexico: What Oppenheimer Left Out

First We Bombed New Mexico exposes the gripping untold story of multigenerational cancers and abandonment suffered by local communities in New Mexico since the 1945 Trinity Bomb detonation in their state. A history of nuclear colonialism and environmental racism in New Mexico is witnessed as we learn the impact the secret Trinity Bomb inflicted on its residents of color, including a spike in the deaths of newborns shortly after the blast. Amid resurging domestic and global nuclear threats, the film starkly reminds us that radiation doesn’t respect national borders, bringing home the frightening realization that we are all downwinders. Lois Lipman produced the documentary under her 47th State Films banner.

first we bombed new mexico - poster for film
Credit: 47th State Films

First We Bombed New Mexico will have its West Coast Premiere screening and two encore screenings at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The premiere screening will be Monday, January 8, 2024, 8:30 pm at Camelot Theatres, followed by a Q&A moderated by David Ansen. The encore screenings will be on Tuesday, January 9, at 1:45 pm at Palm Canyon, and Wednesday, January 10, at 1:00 pm at Regal Palm Springs.

Lipman (Director/Producer), Tina Cordova (protagonist), Katherine Douglas (subject),  Laura Greenwood (subject), and filmmakers Douglas Blush ACE (Executive Producer), Joel Marcus (Editor/Co-Producer), and Todd Waldron (Composer) are scheduled to attend all three screenings, along with others to be confirmed. In October 2023, the film had its World Premiere in New Mexico at the Santa Fe International Film Festival where it was honored with the 2023 Audience Choice Best Competition Documentary. Later in October 2023, it screened at the Austin International Film Festival, where it was the Winner of the Documentary Feature Jury Award 2023.


First We Bombed New Mexico tells the story that Oppenheimer leaves out – It witnesses the impact the world’s first nuclear bomb had on residents when their land was poisoned by radiation. Inspiring New Mexico Hispanic cancer survivor, Tina Cordova has catalyzed a movement seeking compensation for families – mostly Hispanic and Native – who suffer multigenerational cancers tied to that bomb – and who continue to be ignored.

In her investigation, Tina Cordova learns that Manhattan Project physicians warned General Groves that Trinity’s fallout would be catastrophic and urged the evacuation of residents. There were even cattle cars secretly waiting outside Carrizozo to do this. Ultimately, the Military took care of itself and quickly left New Mexico following the blast but residents were never informed about any of this – or given medical help. Tina also discovers that baby deaths in New Mexico spiked after the explosion, “New Mexico babies were the first victims of Trinity”. Their death statistics were covered up. Downwind victims of later Nevada Cold War nuclear tests have been eligible for compensation since 1990 by RECA (Radiation Exposure Compensation Act) but RECA excludes New Mexicans, who are primarily people of color.


This then becomes Tina’s goal – to have Congress extend RECA and give compensation and healthcare to communities that suffered cancers from nuclear testing but who continue to be ignored. In 2018, Tina and her courageous band of Latina mothers are finally invited to Washington to tell their story. Tina is certain that once Congress hears how Trinity harmed her people, Congress will help them. Our verité filming shows famous legislators enthusiastically applauding the women. However, Tina and the downwinder mothers are sorely disappointed after they return to New Mexico and discover that no concessions or help was approved.


Tina forms a coalition with Native uranium miners who are also suffering and dying and unsuccessfully seeking government help, saying “If we speak with one voice, it will be harder for Congress to turn its back on us”. Carefully woven into the film are insights by renowned nuclear experts, including MIT professor and author Kate Brown who says efforts by the Downwinders to get justice from the government are a bit like “the fox guarding the henhouse”.


This beautiful and compelling documentary celebrates resilient people in a gorgeous and remote part of our country that the government falsely claimed was ‘uninhabited’. We get close to communities who despite suffering heavy losses and deception by their own government, never lose their spirit and belief that they will finally be heard – or their music. The clock is ticking, the Downwinders have until June 2024 to get Congress to vote to extend RECA. After that, RECA sunsets. After the festival premieres, the film will be used in a powerful impact campaign to inform and excite public opinion to get RECA extended before it expires.

Call to Renew RECA

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